The Night Nurse Essay, Research Paper
The Night Nurse
Grace has many meanings in the English language today. One of these meanings is
to be pardoned from one?s actions. In ?The Night Nurse,? by Joyce Carol Oates, Grace
Burkhardt is pardoned many times in her life. She is pardoned from dying, pardoned from
her actions toward others, and eventually pardons herself from her actions. In life, we are
given grace, a pardon for our actions, many times,
The first example of grace being given is Grace Burkhardt?s life being saved
physically. She could have died, but was instead saved, and was given more time to live.
The doctors saved her life, not because they ?chose her,? but because of their job. Grace
was not pardoned by the doctors, but by God, who allowed her to live a while longer on
the earth. She would have died from ?pulmonary embolism,? had she not been saved by
the doctors. Pulmonary embolism would have been caused by ?a ?massive? blood clot in
her leg which, had it broken free? would have been carried to her heart, and would have
killed her instantly. Instead of dying, at this place and time, Grace is given more time to
live her life.
I have experienced this type of grace many times throughout my life. Although
when I first received this grace, I may have not known I was receiving it. A few instances
of when I have been shown grace, is while I was driving. I took gravel roads to school,
and I?ve had my share of ditches. I have been shown grace in that I have never been hurt.
And the car that I was driving has never been damaged. Instead of coming out of the
accident with no injuries, I could have had really serious injuries, or not have come out at
all. There have been many deaths in my high school because of gravel roads, and I could
have been one of those deaths, had I not been given grace to continue living.
The second example of Grace receiving grace is from Harriet Zink. Grace is
reunited with an old acquaintance from her past, and a painful past between the two
women is brought up. Harriet was not treated kindly by Grace when they were younger.
Although Grace is undeserving of forgiveness, Harriet shows Grace grace. Harriet says
that she is able to forgive due to her Christian faith: ?Yes, I can forgive you, Grace
Burkhardt. I?m a Christian woman. In my heart I?m empowered to forgive.? Harriet
shows grace, although in their past life together, Grace was unwilling to be friendly
towards Harriet. Harriet at first thought that she would not be able to show any
forgiveness to Grace. ??When I saw you here, Grace Burkhardt, and I thought, ?Am I
strong enough to forgive that woman? Even with Jesus? help, am I strong enough?? I
didn?t know. But now I know. I am strong enough, I can forgive.? Harriet was able to
look past what Grace did to her, and forgave her.
In my life, this is an extremely hard thing to do. I was forgiven by God, so I need
to love and forgive just as He loves and forgives me. But it is hard to ?turn the other
cheek? and forgive someone for their wrongdoing against me. I am a stubborn, stubborn
person, and to forgive and forget does not match my personality. If someone does
something to me, I want to take revenge, and get them back. But that is not the way I
should react to them. I need to forgive them, just as Christ forgave me. I act like Harriet
when I need to forgive someone. In a way, Harriet got revenge on Grace, but scaring her,
and getting in her face about the whole ordeal. After that is over, she had a whole new
attitude. She had to get the badness out of the way before she could let the forgiveness
come through to Grace.
The third way grace is given in ?The Night Nurse? is how Grace pardons herself
for the way she treated Harriet as a young girl. Grace?s eyes are opened to the way she
treated Harriet, and tries to justify how and why she treated her the way she did. ?I tried
to be nice to you. I did what I could. How am I to blame.? Grace repeats this phrase to
herself while Harriet is confronting her. She feels she did her part to help Harriet get
through a tough time. The reader gets a glance at what Grace really did to Harriet: ?You
never took showers or baths. You wore your clothes until they were filthy. You smelled.
You stank. You cried yourself to sleep every night.? Grace and her friends were not very
friendly towards Harriet. Although it may not be justified to the reader, in Grace?s own
eyes, she feels justified what she did to Harriet. Because of this justification, Grace is able
to pardon herself, and forgive herself of the way she treated Harriet.
I?m sure everyone does this in their life. They try to justify what they did, or didn?t
do, to make themselves feel better. Looking back on my life, I have tried to justify some
of the actions I have taken towards others. I know what I did was wrong, but I don?t
want to face what I did as a wrongdoing, so I try to excuse my actions. Reading about
how Grace treated Harriet makes me look at how I treat others I come in contact with
during my life. Everyone is going through a tough time some point in their life, and I need
to realize that, and be friendly with everyone. Being friendly never killed anyone.
Throughout life, we are pardoned many times for the actions we do. In ?The
Night Nurse,? Grace Burkhardt is given grace three ways. Her life was saved, and she
was given more time to live; she was forgiven by Harriet Zink for actions she committed
many years before; and she pardons herself for the way she treated Harriet.