In any Kafka story a Doctor going to see a patient is going to get very weird.
SHORT STORY REVIEW FRANZ KAFKA A COUNTRY DOCTOR 1916
A country doctor narrates what proves to be his last case. He is called on to visit a sick child and sets out to see what he can do.
Being a Kafka story this gets very strange and surreal. It is a bitterly cold winter. The Doctor’s own horse has mysteriously died. No one in his village will lend him a horse, though he manages to get a cart drawn by two horses, unexpectedly, from a pig farmer.
The farmer is harassing a local lady and the Doctor offers to protect her.
The horses move at great speed as if already knowing where the patient is to be found. The Doctor passes various former patients who stare at him.
At the sick boy’s house, the parents are pleasant and offer the Doctor some hospitality. He examines the boy and finds him quite healthy, though possibly spoilt and a little bloated with too much of his mother’s fine coffee.
As the Doctor prepares to leave, the horses, from outside the house, manage to open the window and stare in, judgementally at the Doctor. He re-examines the boy and sees a gaping wound in the boy’s side, full of worms with legs.
The Doctor seems unable to deal with this real crisis and assures the boy that he will be OK. The family attack the Doctor and remove all his clothes, casting him onto a bed beside the boy. The Doctor gets up and escapes, taking his clothes out with him and throwing them onto the cart. He plans to change into them on route despite the winter snow.
The horses do not repeat their fast pace, but travel very slowly and the Doctor, unable to reach back and gather his warm clothes again, knows that he will freeze to death before his journey is completed.
Odd, even for Kafka. The Doctor seems powerless as his whole life unravels and fate just conspires to ruin him. His medical knowledge weakens faced with a real patient. His fellow villagers hate him. His horse has died and he finds himself in the control of a stranger’s very strange horses. Then he faces a lonely cold death. It is difficult to see what Kafka means by this other than life gets harsh and meaningless before you die. It seems more superficial than deep and meaningful.