a story that revolves around grief, need, and up to a point, communication. The tension in the story is due to two forces pulling on the doctor, Kirilov. First, his six-year-old son has just died, and he and his wife are in a heightened state of anguish and shock. The second force pulling at the doctor is that of a stranger, Abogin, who has come calling at just that moment, begging for the doctor to come and treat his dying wife. What is Kirilov to do? Does he abandon his wife and the body of their son? Does he stay with them and leave someone else to possibly die?