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Sarah Hall’s Short Story “Theatre 6”

The narrative is set in a hospital operating room and in-house chapel, perpetuating the atmosphere of democratic conformity that defies morality.

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The setting serves as the display of the conflict between individual choice and procedures. The author writes, “The on-call room is never dark enough, even with your eye-mask,” indicating that she wants darkness to hide from the unnecessary formalities (Hall 1).

The chapel is described with disregard, “You’ve seen these items on sale in the hospital gift shop – 20 pence each – they’re found all over… in the chapel’s votive plates” (Hall 1). This attitude towards the chapel further indicates the neglect of sacred moral values.

Rhodes argues that medical morality does not necessarily align with commonly accepted ethics, reinforcing the protagonist’s disapproval of the legal framework of non-removal of dead fetuses (404).

The use of symbolism highlights the central ethical dilemma between laws and morality.

Hall writes, “You are dreaming of geese, of all things. Geese in a field by a river. Grey geese” (1). Geese represent the monotonousness of the protagonist’s work-life flooded by paperwork rather than saving lives.

Operation theatre is a symbolic battleground of the main character’s moral dilemma since, here, she mentally expresses her dissatisfaction with work.

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Jackson et al. find that similar to the protagonist of this short story, most physicians in the US feel burnout and job dissatisfaction (1285).

The second-and third-person’s points of view are used throughout the story to allow for a deep insight into the moral dilemma.

The second person is utilized to provide readers with an insight into the protagonist’s thought process, “You are dreaming of geese, of all things” (Hall 1). This method creates an atmosphere of conformity since it resembles instructions, which echoes the central conflict of laws versus morality.

When describing other characters, the third person is employed to portray the context of the protagonist’s experiences within the hospital, “Ah, beautiful, he says. Yes, that’s the best way to come. Of course” (Hall 6).

Hawke argues that the second-person point of view creates “intersubjectivity generated between narrator, reader, and protagonist,” which is evident in the given story since it cultivates a more intimate outlook through the main character’s eyes (2).

Works Cited

Hawke, Anastasia. Understanding Second-Person Point of View in Fiction. 2015. Master Thesis. Digital Commons.

Jackson, Theresa, et al. “The Physician Attrition Crisis: A Cross-Sectional Survey of the Risk Factors for Reduced Job Satisfaction Among US Surgeons.” World Journal of Surgery, vol. 42, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1285–1292. Springer.

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Rhodes, Rosamond. “Medical Ethics: Common or Uncommon Morality?” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, vol. 29, no. 3, 2020, pp. 404-420. Cambridge University Press.

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