Night Nurse By Joyce Oates

After reading Joyce Carol Oates story, " The Night Nurse," revenge is what
is found. This story starts off by a woman by the name of Grace Burkhardt,
collapsing at a shopping mall because of a reason that was unknown at the time.

She is taken in an ambulance to a hospital where she undergoes an emergency
surgery for a blood clot that is in her leg that could have traveled to her
heart. Grace’s stay in the hospital that night was not how she expected. The
worst pain a person can indure, is the one who is left out. In the beginning of
the story Grace explains herself as being laid back. "I am behaving well, look
how calm and civilized" (654). Grace never screamed out at the shopping mall.

She tried to act as calm as possible. Even though Grace was in so much pain, she
never sobbed to God or never did she ask, "Am I dying? Will I die" (654)?

Shortly after the doctors took care of Grace, she went into surgery. After this
is when her attitude begins to change. After surgery Grace just lied in bed in
so much pain. She cried out "help me.... I’m so cold, I’m so frightened"
(654)! This is when the reader notices the shift in Graces attitude. Her
attitude shifts into a tone that can practically be heard by the reader. As many
times as Grace cried out for help the reader could tell she was desperate. Once
the day was over, Grace was about to go through a night that she would never
forget. She began to beg God, unlike in the beginning of the story, "Help me
through the night" (655). The pain from Grace’s surgery was so severe, that
she called for a nurse repeatedly. Finally a nurse came in to give her a bedpan
so she could urinate. After Grace used the bedpan she waited for the nurse to
come back and retrieve it, but she never came back. She needed a nurse also to
bring her a blanket because she was freezing cold. Once again there was no nurse
to be found. As Grace laid there waiting, she began to drift into her years at
college. She thought about her several administrative positions she held during
her years at Wells College. During these years people had always praised her.

Grace always seemed to be favored by others. Finally Grace saw a nurse standing
at the door. Grace wondered why the nurse was just standing there. The nurse
finally told Grace her name. It was Harriet Zink. Harriet says her name so the
reader can tell there is a conflict occurring. All Grace wanted was a blanket
and her bedpan removed, but Harriet replied, "registered nurses aren’t
required to touch bedpans" (660). This is when the reader can tell Harriet is
going to be difficult for Grace to deal with. Once Grace stated, "I am a good
person, I am well-liked, respected" (660), is the time the reader finally gets
to know what the conflict is between Grace and Harriet. Because of Graces
comment about her Harriet begins to show she gets happy every time Grace shows
how much pain she is in. This is how the writer lets the reader know revenge is
taking place. Back in Harriet’s college years she was suppose to be roommates
with Grace, but Harriet came late twelve days late into the semester because her
mother died. The residential advisor warned Grace and her friends what had
happened so they could avoid bringing the subject up. Once Harriet came, her
hall had already bonded with others. At this time Harriet was always treated as
if she was in the way and there was no room for her. Because of the way she was
treated in these college years, it has affected Harriet throughout her life.

Deep down inside she knew she would forgive Grace, but she could not stop
thinking of her years in college and the pain that she went. Harriet knows that
she could stand there and enjoy the pain Grace was going through longer, but she
is a better person than that. Grace was in so much pain that night from her
surgery. She needed a nurse to come tend to her, but no one would come. After

Grace called and called for a nurse, one finally came in to tend to her. This
nurse happened to be a person she went to college with in the