Moral Dilemma Essay

A moral dilemma is to be placed in a situation which involves conflicts between moral requirements. These situations have a very apparent conflict between moral imperatives such that obeying one will result in transgressing the other. This paper will demonstrate choices, tragedy, respect, individuality, and values in the following stories: The Moose and The Sparrow by Hugh Garner, The Yellow Sweater by Hugh Garner, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, The Painted Door by Sinclair Ross, and David by Earle Birney A choice is something one must make frequently throughout each and every day of ones lifetime.

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Some choices may be easier to make than others. One must choose to get out of bed each morning, what someone wants to eat or drink, whom one should converse with. Other choices may not quite be as simple to make, or the choices I make throughout my life may be easy choices to me, but to someone else those choices would be very hard to make.

For instance, young Cecil had to make many choices in the story “The Moose and The Sparrow”.

Cecil chose to stay at the camp even though he was being bullied constantly by Moose Mason. He said he’d made up his mind to stick it out until his time was up” (page 4, lines 23-24) As much as Moose was physically harming Cecil, Cecil did stick to his commitment to the lumber camp and continued to earn his money for university. He was a tough young man inside of his sparrow-like shell to put up with all of Moose’s bullying, and Cecil made a justifiable choice to stop Moose by killing him. In the story “The Yellow Sweater” Marie chose to leave her aunt Bernice’s house as Bernice’s husband was obviously abusing Marie.

Marie Chose to pack up her things to move to the city, but she didn’t hitchhike like other people leaving the small town she was living in. Marie simply chose to walk, but when Tom pulled over on the side of the road, Marie chose to get into the car not knowing what kind of person she would be traveling with or if she would arrive safely to her destination. “She opened the right rear door, saying at the same time, “Thank you sir,” in a frightened little voice. ” (page 3,lines 7-9) Tom made some choices too.

He chose to pick up this young girl plodding along the side of the highway, when he would never pick up a hitchhiker before. Tom chose to pick Marie up because “it might be fun to pick her up, to cross-examine her while she was trapped in the seat beside him. ” ( page 2, lines 76- 78) Tom also chose to keep his real identity hidden from Marie, hoping that he could use her for sex, so he gave her a fictitious name, “When he drew out his wallet to pay the checks he was careful to cover the initials G. G. M. with the palm of his hand. (page 4 lines 54 – 56)

In the story “The Necklace” Monsieur Loisel chose to give up the 400 francs he was saving for a new rifle to buy her a beautiful dress to wear on their evening out “He grew a little pale, for he was reserving just that sum to buy a gun and treat himself to a little shooting, the next summer, on the plain of Nanterre, with some friends who used to shoot larks there on Sundays. But he said:- ‘All right, I will give you four hundred francs. But take care to have a pretty dress. ’ ” (page 2 lines 27-29) Mathilde chose not to tell Mme.

Forester that the necklace she lent to her was lost. Instead, M. Loisel told his wife to write her a letter. “ You must write to your friend,” he said, “that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it repaired. That will give us time to turn around. ” She wrote as he dictated. ” (page 4 lines 84-86) Instead of coming clean and telling Mme. Forester what really happened to her necklace, M. and Mme. Loisel chose to just go into debt and work hard to pay for a new necklace to replace the lost one. Finally one Sunday came and Mme.

Loisel saw Mme Forester and decided to speak to her. “ Mme. Loisel felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid up, she would tell her all. Why not? ” (page 6 lines 108-110) Finally, the tragic choice of waiting too long led to a life of hardships for the Loisel family. If Mathilde Loisel chose to tell Mme. Forester that she lost the necklace in the first place, Mme. and M. Loisel wouldn’t have faced as many hardships to replace the necklace. This reflects back to honesty being the best policy.

In the story “The Painted Door” John chose to leave Ann at home with a snow storm on its way so that he could walk five miles to his fathers house to make sure he would be warm and to help with the chores. John knew that Ann would be lonely, so he also chose to walk an extra two miles to Steven’s home to ask if he could keep Ann company until John returned home. Ann chose to commit adultery. She loved John, she is dedicated to him, but she felt neglected by him and was in desperate need for love and comfort. She chose to let Steven to ease her emotions by taking advantage of her situation.

Ann decided not to stay faithful to John, but to give into her desires and sleep with Steven. “She who now felt his air of appraisal as nothing more than an understanding of the unfulfilled woman that until this moment had lain within her brooding and unedited, reproved out of consciousness by the insistence of an outgrown, routine fidelity. ” (page6 lines 14-17) John chose to venture back home in the storm, and when he got home it was the middle of the night. He saw Steven and Ann lying together, sleeping side by side in bed and from there, John chose to go back out into the storm.

John chose his fate as he died in the storm. In the story “David” one of the choices made was to kill the robin to put it out of its misery “ That day returning we found a robin gyrating in grass, wing-broken. I caught it to tame but David took and killed it, and said, ‘could you teach it to fly? ’” The biggest choice in this story was a choice that Bobbie had to make. When David was saving Bobbie from falling, he in turn fell. David was still alive, but injured very badly. David did not want Bobbie to go get help, just to give him a push off the side of the mountain.

Like the robin, David didn’t see any point in living if he wasn’t going to be useful, so he just wanted to end it right then and there. Bobbie chose to honor his friend’s wishes. He chose to push David to his death. The tragedies of these stories can be compared and contrasted, but the range of tragedy differs from story to story. Like the people we have in our lives, we all face tragedies, but we don’t necessarily share the same tragedies. In the story “The Moose and The Sparrow”, it was tragic that poor Cecil had to endure so much physical pain and torment from Moose. “ ‘Moose burned the kid’s hand,’ he told me.

He heated the end of a saw blade in the tea fire, and then called the kid to take it to the squint eye to be sharpened. He handed the hot end to Cecil, and it burned his hand pretty bad. ’ ” ( page 5 lines 3-5) It was also a tragedy that in the end, Cecil had put up with so much torment from Moose, that Cecil in turn took matters into his own hands and killed Moose. It was tragedy at its worst when a good man was forced to commit the unspeakable. In the story “ The Yellow Sweater”, it was tragic to read that somehow Maries Aunt Bernice’s husband had been abusing Marie for her to be running away from their home. ‘I was living with my Aunt Bernice and her husband. ’ He noticed that she did not call the man her uncle.

‘You sound as though you don’t like the man your aunt is married to? ’ ‘I hate him! ’ she whispered vehemently. ” (page 3 lines 62-68) I found it tragic that Marie started to sort of trust Tom, but came to realize that Tom was just a perverted pig. The way that Tom would belittle Marie was a tragedy “ There was a note of relief in her voice as she said, ‘Oh! I didn’t mean for us- for you to find a stream. ’ ‘You don’t seem to know what you mean, do you? She became silent then and seemed to shrink farther into the corner. ” ( page 6 lines 18-24) It was also a tragedy to read that Marie was an orphan. “ She was an orphan, eighteen years old, who for the past three years had been living on her aunt’s farm. ” ( page 4 lines 28-30) Having poor values such as those of Tom is also a tragedy.

You see a somewhat “supposed-to-be” sophisticated and well mannered working-class gentleman and instead of seeing a young woman (like his daughter Shirley, “Something about her reminded him of his eldest daughter, but he shrugged off the comparison. (page 3 lines 36-41) In the story “The Necklace”, losing the necklace was a tragedy. She mustered up enough courage to go visit Mme. Forester to ask if she had some jewelry she could borrow for an evening of extravagance with the Minister of Education. It was a big deal because she was really asking a lot by borrowing such a beautiful necklace, and then she lost it. Mathilde was sick and distraught. When she lost that necklace, she sort of lost herself. Even though she had unrealistic dreams about what she wanted in her life, she got knocked down a few rungs to pay off for the replacement.

Monsieur Loisel also faced tragedy in the lost necklace, as he had to use his inheritance money and accumulated a lot of debt to buy a new necklace “ Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which his father had left him. He had to borrow the remainder. ” (page 5 line 93) “He compromised the end of his life, risked his signature without even knowing whether it could be honored; and frightened by all the anguish of the future” (page 5 line 94) It was also a tragic moment when Mme. Loisel told Mme. Forester the truth about the necklace, and Mme Forester told Mathilde that the missing necklace was a fake. ‘Oh, my poor Mathilde. But mine were false. At most they were worth five hundred francs! ’ ” (page 6 line 128)

In the story “ The Painted Door”, it was tragic that John could not see that Ann loved him, her husband. She was so lonely because he thought that showing her that he loved her meant that he had to slave himself working all the time When in fact she just wanted him to spend a little time with her. It was tragic that she still wanted to do fun things, but they have different interests and Ann never tried to talk to him about these issues. When she felt communication was lost, she tragically made the wrong choices.

It was something of life she wanted, not just a house and furniture; something of John, not pretty clothes when she would be too old to wear them but John, of course, couldn’t understand. To him it seemed only right that she should have the clothes – only right that he, fit for nothing else, should slave away fifteen hours a day to give them to her. There was in his devotion a baffling, insurmountable humility that made him feel the need of sacrifice. And when his muscles ached, when his feet dragged stolidly with weariness, then it seemed that in some measure at least he was making amends for his big hulking body and simple mind. (page 2 lines 53-61)

It was tragic that Ann was comparing John and Steven, and was putting down her husbands demeanor and looks and flirting with even the thoughts of Steven. “Steven’s smile, and therefore difficult to reprove. It lit up his lean, still-boyish face with a peculiar kind of arrogance: features and smile that were different from John’s, from other men’s- willful and derisive, yet naively so- as if it were less the difference itself he was conscious of, than the long-accustomed privilege that thereby fell his due. He was erect, tall, square-shouldered. His hair was dark and trip, his lips curved soft and full.

While John, she made the comparison swiftly, was thickset, heavy-jowled, and stooped. He always stood before her helpless, a kind of humility and wonderment in his attitude. ” (page 4 lines 78-88) “she felt eager, challenged. Something was at hand that hitherto had always eluded her, even in the early days with John, something vital, beckoning, meaningful. She didn’t understand, but she knew. The texture of the moment was satisfyingly dreamlike: an incredibility perceived as such, yet acquiesced in. She was John’s wife- she knew but also she knew that Steven standing here was different from John. (page 4 lines 85-90) Another tragedy in this story was Ann finding out the next morning that John was dead. After she slept with Steven, she realized just how much she loved John, and that he was the one, it was too late. He died. “She knew now-John was the man” (page 7 line 39) “They found him the next day, less than a mile from home. Drifting with the storm he had run against his own pasture fence and overcome had frozen there, erect still, both hands clasping fast the wire. ” (page 7 lines 55-57) Such powerful sorrow when someone dies by such a tragic means.

If only Ann and John could have talked things over, communicated their wants and needs they may have lived a long and happy life together after all. In the story “David”, the tragedy was David falling off the cliff saving Bobbie, and becoming paralyzed. David didn’t want to suffer, or feel useless in a wheelchair, so he asked Bobbie to push him over the side so that he would die. In turn, Bobbie blamed himself. This was a big tragedy to me because you never know, David could have survived and recovered well so that he could have full use of his body again, but he never got a chance to find out.

Without a gasp he was gone” (page 5 lines 96-97) “ ‘No, Bobbie! Don’t ever blame yourself. I didn’t test my foothold. ’ He shut the lids of his eyes to the stare of the sky” (page7 lines 116-118) “David still as a broken doll I hunched on my knees to leave, but he called and his voice now was sharpened with fear. ‘For Christ’s sake push me over! If I could move…or die…’ the sweat ran from his forehead but only his head moved. ” (page 7 lines 140-143) Many people have been brought up understanding the Golden Rule do unto others as you would have done to you. Unfortunately not everyone follows that rule.

If everyone showed respect, everyone would get it. In the story “The Moose and The Sparrow”, Cecil was respectful, however Moose was not. The way Moose acted toward Cecil was pathetic. He had a target aimed straight at Cecil from the beginning and even after everyone else in the camp got along with Cecil, Moose still didn’t let up. When everyone on the gang found out Cecil was a university student, Moose went to great lengths to bully Cecil. “Men on the gang had to prevent Moose from beating the boy up, and old Bobbins even went so far as to ask Mr. Semple, the walking boss, to transfer the youngster to another gang.

Since learning that Cecil was a college boy, Moose gave him no peace at all, making him do jobs that would have taxed the strength of any man in the camp, and cursing him out when he was unable to do them, or do them fast enough. ” (page 2 lines 19-22) If only Moose could have respected the fact that Cecil was there to do a job, to earn his way to university, then one life wouldn’t have been corrupted, and the other wouldn’t have been lost. In the story “The yellow Sweater” Marie was respectful. She was quiet and kept to herself. She was reserved. Tom on the other hand, was disrespectful.

He has no respect for his wife and children, or anyone really. I think the only thing he has any amount of respect for is his car. His thoughts on the hitchhikers is uncalled for. Thinking they are all bums or bad people. “It was easy to see that the warm weather was approaching, he thought. The roads were becoming cluttered up once more with hitchhikers. Why the government didn’t clamp down on them was more than he could understand. Why should people pay taxes so that other lazy bums could fritter away their time roaming the country, getting free rides, going God knows where?

They were dangerous too. ” (page 2 lines 27-36) “He felt a slight tingling along his spine. It was the same feeling he had experienced once when sitting in the darkened interior of a movie house beside a strange yet, somehow intimate young woman. The feeling that if he wished he had only to let his hand fall along her leg. ” (page 3 lines 72-78) Tom also has no respect for Maria either. The only reason he picked her up on the side of the highway was because he wanted to “cross examine her”.

“ It might be fun to pick her up, to cross-examine her while she was trapped in the seat beside him. (page 2 lines 77-79) In the story “The Necklace”, Mathilde didn’t really respect her husband. She was too wrapped up in not having a more material lifestyle, and she took her lack of high society out on him. Monsieur Loisel on the other hand loved his wife, and tried to make her happy. M. Loisel even let her be the spotlight of the party. “All the men were looking at her, inquiring her name, asking to be introduced. All the attaches of the Cabinet wanted to dance with her. The Minister took notice of her. ” (page 3 line 53) “She went away about four in the morning.

Since midnight-her husband has been dozing in a little anteroom with three other men whose wives were having a good time. ” (page 3 line 55) Mathilde also didn’t really respect Mme. Forester because if she did, Mathilde would have told her immediately that the necklace was missing, but it will be replaces as soon as possible. It you truly respect someone, you are not going to lie to them, or avoid them. “ ‘You must write to your friend,’ he said, ‘that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it repaired. That will give us time to turn around. She wrote as he dictated. ” (page 4 lines 84,85) Mme.

Forester also had no respect for Mathilde for if she did, she would have at least appreciated all of the hard work that Mathilde did in order to replace the necklace. In the story “The Painted Door”, Ann did not have respect for John. He was a hard working man whose goal in life was to please his wife. Everything he did was for Ann. Ann on the other hand, was thinking of only herself when John left her alone in the house while he went to help his father, and also when she and Steven were seducing one another.

If Ann respected John, she wouldn’t have been pursuing a sexual relationship with another man. Especially not the spouses friend. “There was something strange, almost frightening, about this Steven and his quiet, unrelenting smile; but strangest of all was the familiarity: the Steven she had never seen or encountered, and yet had always known, always expected, always waited for. It was less Steven himself that she felt than his inevitability. ” (page 5 lines 27-32) Steven had no respect for John or Ann.

He seems to be a live- in -the -moment kind of guy also if he sees an opportunity, he’s going to ounce on it. In the case of this story, throughout John and Ann’s marriage Steven has been in their life and he waited for the perfect opportunity to get Ann alone and have his way with her. “The light kept dimming, gathering the shadows round them, hushed, conspiratorial. He was smiling still. Her hands again were clenched up white and hard. ‘But he always came,’ she persisted. ” (page 6 lines26-29) “ ‘Never a storm like this one. ’ There was a quietness in his smile now, a kind of simplicity almost, as if to reassure her” (page 6 lines31,32)

In the story “David”, Bobbie and David respected each other. They built up a friendship that had an almost brotherly type quality to it. They were both very comfortable with each other. They did share similarities like their joy for the beauty that surrounded them, the adventure and exhilaration of beating the challenges laid out before them. It took a lot for Bobbie to be able to do what David asked him to, but he did it because he respected David’s wishes. “I looked at the blood on the ledge, and the far valley.

I looked at last in his eyes. He breathed, ‘I’d do it for you, Bob. ” (page 7 lines 150-152) “Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals. ” Oscar Wilde Everyone is born with personality, a unique signature. In all of the above stories, we can point out individuality. In the story “The Moose and The Sparrow”, Cecil really showed his individuality from the rest of the loggers. “Cecil was the least likely lumberjack I’ve seen in over twenty-five years in lumber camps. ” (page 1 lines 5,6) He looked and acted differently from all of them. He was like the black sheep of the camp.

He was “hardly taller than an axe handle, and almost as thin. ” While all the other men from the camp were playing poker, Cecil would “sit on his bunk and fashion belt buckles, rings and tie clips from a spool of fine copper wire”. However, it is unfortunate that some people have to single someone out because they are different. In the story “The Yellow Sweater”, Marie caught Tom’s eye because she was walking down the road without thumbing a ride. I wouldn’t really say that Marie was showing her individuality, but her actions or the lack of actions made Tom notice her.

Tom on the other hand, showed no signs of individuality. He was more into justifying his thoughts by the actions of some of his associates and men of his age. “Many men his age had formed liaisons with young women. In fact it was the accepted thing among some of the other salesmen he knew. ” (page 5 lines 18-21) In the story “The Necklace”, Mathilde had a reality check and after she discovered what she had to do, she empowered herself in a way. She was always so busy dreaming of what she desired, that she never really got to find out who she was.

By the end of the story, Mathilde gained a sense of individuality. “She learned the horrible life of the needy. She made the best of it, moreover, frankly, heroically. ” (page 5 line 98) “How singular life is, how changeable! What a little thing it takes to save you or to lose you. ” (page 6 line 106) I believe that if it wasn’t for the tragedy in this story, Mathilde probably would have died a very unhappy woman, because she never would have realized just who she was. In the story “The Painted Door” Ann is showing herself as an individual.

Although she is a farmer’s lonely wife, she thought and acted as her own person. She lets her mind wander to Steven. She has broken down a wall when she broke a vow she made to her husband. A marriage is when two become one, and sure she still has the right to do things for herself, but she broke the unity with John and became one with herself. In the story “David” both David and Bobbie are shown as individuals. David is carefree and seems fearless. He has a very playful fun side to him where Bobbie is much more serious, more fearful, conscious and cautious of his surroundings.

Bobbie is the more optimistic one, while David is prouder and headstrong and believes life isn’t worth living if you cant live it the way you would best like, or want to. David is a natural born teacher sharing his experiences and knowledge with Bobbie, who is perfectly content in the follower role, as the student gladly absorbing in all the knowledge laid out before him. I will conclude with values. Values are the social principles, goals, or standards held or accepted by an individual, a class, or a society. The opposite of moral values is to deceive by omitting the truth.

It is of disregard for the rights and beliefs of others. It is intimidation, harassment, assaults’ against persons, reputations, and property. It is about violence and murder. Values play a primary role in the stories. In the story “The Moose and The Sparrow”, Cecil had good moral values. He was working to go to university, he was respectful, he had positive goals that he was reaching. He wasn’t a bad man, although he did break the law, but in the opinion of Mr. Anderson, it was justifiable. Moose on the other hand holds no social principles, goals or standards.

He was a bad man who disregarded others’ feelings, he was intimidating; he constantly harassed, and he was a violent coward. “There are some men, like Moose Maddon, who are so twisted inside that they want to take it out on the world. They feel that most other men have had better breaks than they’ve had, and it rankles inside them. They try to get of this feeling by working it out on somebody who’s even weaker than they are. Once they pick on you there’s no way of stopping them short of getting out of their way or beating it out of their hide. (page 4 lines 1-5)

In the story “The Yellow Sweater”, Marie was emotionally lost, but she was trying to move on and set some goals. She wasn’t deceitful, she didn’t lie, nor was she violent or intimidating. Tom, however, did not have good values. He had poor principles. He omitted the truth and was deceitful by being “careful to cover the initials G. G. M. with the palm of his hand. ” (page 4 lines 56,57) He was intimidating, and he verbally harassed Marie. In the story “The Necklace” Mme Loisel had poor values in the beginning.

She set her standards way too high for herself with her desires, and distorted the truth, but after working hard for 10 years to help her husband pay off all of the debt required to replace the necklace, she was a new woman. During that time, she had set good standards and goals for herself. “Dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, a basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted, fighting for her wretched money, sou by sou. ” (page 5 line 99) In the story “The Painted Door”, John had good values. He was a husband that loved to provide for his wife.

He was a hard worker and dedicated his life to maintaining their farm, plus helping his elderly father with his farm. Sadly Ann was too busy resenting John for their lack of quality time. She felt lonely, so she became deceitful, and she disregarded her marriage to John so she could have some attention. She felt guilty after her time of infidelity, and sort of realigned her principles once again by realizing that “John was the man” (page 7 line 39) Steven had no values. He had no regard for John or for Ann. He had no goals or principles. In the story “David”, both David and Bobbie had good values.

They had good standards, and they were both passionate about their work, and the adventures of the great outdoors. The only thing negative I can say about these two is somewhat of a disregard for the rights or beliefs of each other, simply because of the situation they were both faced with, one was wanting it to just end, the other not willing to do the deed. It was definitely a very morally controversial choice and move, but along with that disregard for the rights or beliefs of each other, they both respected each other.

“I looked at last in his eyes. He breathed, ‘I’d do it for you, Bob’ ”. page 7 line 152) Bob did what he felt was the right thing to do, he knew that what he did would haunt him for the rest of his life, but he did it for David. “That day, the last of my youth, on the last of our mountains. ” (page 8 line 184) David and Bobbie valued each other. David did not blame Bobbie for the accident, but realized his own mistake. Bobbie understood how much David loved the mountains and adventure and that was why Bobbie pushed David over. David felt that if he couldnt be adventurous there was no point to his existance. Bobbie honored the values of David, and then he said goodbye.

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