by Ernest Hemingway
The Indian woman is like the complete opposite of Nick's father in terms of her gender, her race, and her role as a patient (as opposed to a doctor). She is pretty much as powerless as you can get, which we definitely get a sense of when three men hold her down so that Nick's father can operate on her.
So we see that she's powerless, but let's not forget that—by literally having a baby—she can also be seen as symbolically representing "birth." You know, in that whole circle of life kind of way. But we use scare-quotes because, after all, it's not a very joyous birth:
She looked very pale. She did not know what had become of the baby or anything. (36)
Yeah, not much celebrating going on in this hospital room. Head on over to our "Character Roles" section to see more about how birth and death function in this story. Now, it's fine and dandy to say that symbolically the Indian woman = birth, but this just scratches the surface for this story. It's important to pay attention to the juxtaposition of birth and death in the story, and to note the ways in which they play off of each other.