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The House Call – Summary | Magic of Words

Unit-1 Stories of the Supernatural

Chapter-3: The House Call | Story from Germany


“The House Call” is a supernatural story from Germany. It is the story about the incarnation of a dead person in the form of a living girl to help her sick mother. As a ghost form, a little girl who had died before three months goes to call a doctor for the treatment of her mother. It is 1930, the day after Christmas at 9:30 pm. Dr. Emil Braun is taking rest after 8 hours more surgical work for the whole day. He wakes up suddenly by hearing the sound of the doorbell.

His wife replies to a little girl to come tomorrow. But, a little girl says that her mother is very sick and may die. Listening to the plea of girl. Dr. Braun becomes ready to go. The little girl of six or seven years old. She is in a cotton dress, shabby shoes and ragged shawl. Dr. Brawn follows her but cannot meet her. She only stops only at the bending of the road to show where she is going.

Finally, she climbs up the stairs of an old tenement house. It is slightly raining outside. The little girl stands at the door of the fifth floor. She thanks the doctor for his kindness and points to the room where a woman was lying sick. Dr, Braun goes inside and hears the door close softly behind him.

Common Questions & Answer Asked on The House Call

Short Answer Questions

1. Why does the little girl come to the doctor’s home? Is she able to take the doctor to her home? Explain.

The little girl Adelheid is Elda’s daughter who has already died. The spirit of the girl goes to the doctor’s house in the darkness to call him for the treatment of her sick mother, Elda, the previous staff of the doctor. The previous night Elda has a hope that the doctor will come to treat her. The girl as a spirit may have heard the wish of her mother whom she loves so much and gone to call the kind doctor for the treatment of her mother.

The girl knows it very well that there is no one to help her mother since she is alone. The kind daughter thus visits the kind doctor for a house call. The doctor too doesn’t deny despite his age and tiredness. He goes to treat the child’s mother thinking that this was an emergency case.

Yes, the girl enables her to take the doctor to her home. She disappears after the doctor enters the room. He sees her mother Elda lying on the bed and surprises later to know that the girl who goes to call him has already passed away.

2. Sketch the character of Dr. Barun in brief.

Dr. Barun is a famous surgeon living in Berlin. He is very old by age but still active and energetic. He has a loving wife and a house. Dr. Barun in a professional doctor and is pure at heart. He is a man of duty. Unlike other commercial doctors, he thinks that the godsend the patients to him which becomes his responsibility to treat. So he is a kind, loving and helpful doctor hardly seen in our world of medicine today. More than that, he is quite religious at heart. He believes whatever God puts in front him he has to do that. So despite his age, he makes a house call.

When Dr. Barun visits Elda he is 67 years old. While climbing the ladder of the old tenement house he reveals this to the readers. He remembers how he used to climb the stairs at the age of 27 forty years ago. He is quite an old doctor. But his age does nothing before his courage and confidence. He says he can climb the stairs even at this age like the time when he was 27 years old.

3. Why was the doctor tired? What was he doing when a girl I knocked at the door?

The doctor Emil Barun of the story “The House Call” was really tired because he remained busy the whole day in the surgical operation. He had to undergo a difficult operation that day. Moreover, he was quite old and the continuous work for him at such age can obviously make him tired.

When the girl, who came to call him at night, knocked at the door Emil Barun was having rest in the kitchen. The d was thinking of the long and difficult operation of the day. He was almost asleep on the kitchen table. He heard the bell rang but didn’t go to answer the door himself. It was Mrs. Barun who answered the door. She tried to persuade the girl to come the other day but the kind doctor made the house call.

Long Answer Questions

1. What are two possible explanations of who the girl was who came to fetch the doctor?

“The House Call” is a supernatural story and narrates something uncommon to us. The story portrays the character of the girl who goes to fetch Doctor Barun to treat her sick mother on a rainy night. The girl appears to be so mysterious that our science fails to answer the question of her existence. When Elda says that the girl has been already dead, we are forced to make some explanations about her identity.

One possible explanation is that she is a ghost or spirit of Adelheid, the dead child of Elda. The story tells that she goes to call the doctor. The doctor sees her and even follows her. When he follows he fails to catch her speed. It appears as if she flying. Then he reaches into the room where her mother has been lying. After the treatment, he knows that the daughter is already dead. He has also seen the shoes and shawl that he has seen on the way. This incident says that the story speaks about the existence of the spirit or the ghost.

The second possible explanation is that this simply the illusion of Dr. Barun has been really tired because of the long operation he has undergone during the day. He is old by age. In the kitchen table, he has been dozed off. Perhaps he has seen the dream that a girl has come to call him. He follows her in his dream. As he follows her he cannot make it. And by the time he checked her mother, he knows it is Elda. Perhaps he has a relation to Elda.

He knows her and has also worked with her in the same hospital. It may have come to his mind for some reason that she is sick and goes to visit her. Actually he realizes later that there has been no one to call him. To sum up, since the girl of the story is so mysterious, many explanations about her identity can be possible. The above two explanations, however, seem quite convincing.

2. Show the points of similarities and differences between the two supernatural stories “A House Call” and “The Loving Mother”.

Both the stories “The House Call” and “The Loving Mother” share a lot of similarities. Both are supernatural stories that talk about the existence of a ghost. The existence of the ghost is neither proved by science or the natural law. Next, both of these stories are about the afterlife. The girl in the “The Hosue Call” and the mother in “The Loving Mother” appear after the death. The dead ones take living from and go out to help their relatives. The third similarity is the setting. The darkness, old tenement house, the alleys, room in the house, the bed, and the staircase are common in both of the stories.

Another similarity is that is becoming impossible to catch the spirit on the way as they run fast. In both of the stories, the people follow the dead ones at night. It means the dead ones reappear in the form of the spirit. The Soul takes ghostly form and disappears at last. Similarly, both figures desire to be followed. In other words, they call the doctor and pharmacist at their home.

Another of the similarities is that the spirit in the story behaves like a real human being. They involve interaction and walk like real human beings. Similarly, the spirits of both stories disappear after they have their goal achieved. Despite these similarities, there are differences too:

The first of the differences is that “The House Call” is the story from Berlin, Germany whereas the story “The Loving Mother” is from Hokkaido Island of Japan. The second major difference is that the first story is about reincarnation whereas the second one is about the existence of life after death. The third difference is that in “The Loving Mother” dead mother appears after death whereas in House Call a dead girl of nine takes living form after her death.

In “The Loving Mother” the mother goes to buy Ame on a stick for her little baby but the girl goes out to call the doctor for the treatment of her sick mother in the “The House Call”. Again, the mother had died recently and still, there is a dead body lying on the bed but the girl had died three months ago.

A loving mother is the story of four days’ even whereas House call has a single day episode. In the nutshell, both stories share a lot of similarities and differences in them. The purpose behind maybe that similar events take place in the different parts of the world not only in Germany, not only in Japan.

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