The Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 64-73

First online:

Scientist or humanist: Two views of the military surgeon in literature

  • Edward E. WaldronAffiliated withEthics and Humanities, School of Medicine, University of North Dakota

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Surgeons have often been portrayed in literature on one of two extremes: the cold, distant scientist or the benign, caring humanist. Two characters in American literature who illustrate those extremes, both surgeons in the military, are Herman Melville's Cadwallader Cuticle and Richard Hooker's Hawkeye Pierce. Cuticle is interested only in the science of his craft, while Pierce maintains the compassion so central to the art of healing, even in the midst of war.