Thursday, April 22, 2010


Slaughterhouse-Five was one of my favorite books that I have read in all of high school. I really like the way that Vonnegut approached this book. I am finding the existentialists very interesting, I like the way they look at most things. This one is a little bit different to answer, because I don't think that the subject of this book had to do with man being either good or evil. Instead, I think that Vonnegut is telling us that everything happens in a moment, and that moment will always be there. I really liked the Tralfamadorians. The way that Vonnegut described their way of life was so cool because the way that they thought and saw things was so different from the way humans see things. I do not think that the Tralfamadorians see good or evil. It is interesting that this is a generally light hearted story, because it is supposed to be about Dresden, which was such a horrible bombing. I believe that what Vonnegut was trying to get across was that he was anti-war, but war is inevitable. War is a moment in time, and that moment will always be the same. Vonnegut realizes that certain things are inevitable, but when does inevitability turn into the lack of free will?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The short story The Stranger took a turn that I did not see coming when the man character, Meursault, killed a man on a sunny day at the beach. Up until the end of part one, Meursault was an odd character, but I never recognized him as a killer. He seemed to live a fairly normal life, but the one thing he was lacking was emotion. This was shown at his mothers funeral, when he did not grieve at all. Without emotion, Meursault existed in society, but he was not a part of society. He had interaction with a girl, Marie, and his neighbors, including a man named Raymond. It bothered me that he lived by the motto that nothing matters. He spends time with Raymond and Marie, but he is indifferent the entire time. The only attraction he has to Marie is sexual; he enjoys her company but he does not feel love for her. She asks him if he would like to marry, and he does not care at all. Even though I don't like the way that Meursault acts, I do not think he is necessarily an evil person.
As the story goes on, Meursault becomes closer with Raymond and Marie, and they make a trip to a friend of Raymond's at the beach. As they walk along the beach, they run in to an Arab man that is the brother of a girl that Raymond had an altercation with. He pulls a knife on Raymond, Meursault, and Raymond's friend Masson, and Raymond reveals a gun. However, they both back down, and the three leave the Arabs alone. They return to Masson's beach house, but for some reason Meursault goes back out, and he takes the gun with him. He again finds the Arab man on the beach, and the man pulls out a knife. At this point Meursault makes it clear that if he wanted to, he could turn back and walk away, but instead he goes forward and he shoots the Arab man. Out of nowhere, Meursault has committed murder.
I still do not think that Meursault is an evil person at this point. I think that he is sick, and that since he does not have the ability to express emotion, the act of murder to him was like any other. Meursault's indifference continues as he sits in jail, he doesn't quite seem to understand the consequences of his crime. Or maybe he does understand, but it does not really matter to him, because he does not care about life. As time goes on, I think that we see a change in Meursault. He begins to long for Marie, and not just for the sexual attraction, but he starts to realize he had genuine interest in someone other than himself. Marie is the first person that Meursault has become attached to in his life. Meursault's progression in jail is what makes him a good person. The interesting thing is that Meursault had to be physically removed from society in order to realize his desire to become a part of society emotionally.
Although he committed an evil act, I believe that Meursault was a truly good person. The fact that he was incapable of being emotional and that he did not care about life was changed durning his time in prison, and his transformation showed that deep down inside he was a good person, and he did not mean to harm anyone.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Metamorphosis providesan interesting take on goodness and evil. I think that evil exists in Metamorphosis, but not because the characters mean to be evil, but because they do not know any better. I think that Gregor's family is evil, because when he transforms into a bug, they basically just leave him behind. It seems like they would have continued to take care of Gregor. At first his sister made some attempt to take care of him, but eventually they just forgot about him. The Samsa family seems more distraught that Gregor cannot take care of them anymore then the fact that he has transformed into a bug. To me, that is evil. But I do not think that they are intentionally evil.

I see goodness in Gregor, even after he is transformed into a bug. I think it was good of him to realize that he was holding his family back when he was a bug. Gregor needed to pass to let his family move on. While it is horrible that the one that carried the weight of the family ends up holding them back, I still think it was necessary for Gregor to become a bug in order for his family to have a better life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rivers and Tides

I found Rivers and Tides, the documentary about Andy Goldsworthy very interesting. The way he approaches art is incredible. He is not just making a sculpture, he is becoming one with nature. The way that he builds things just for the beauty of them is so interesting. I think that what I can take away from his documentary is that he has found goodness in nature. He really discovers the soul of these objects like rocks, branches, ice, water, leaves, and other things. Goldsworthy takes my question to a different level that I have never thought about. What he is doing is finding the goodness in these objects and making something beautiful with them. This also shows something about Goldsworthy as a person. He looks for the goodness in people, but also in nature. The way he discovers beauty is unlike any other way I have seen and I think that is pretty remarkable. Rivers and Tides has taught me that goodness can be found not only in man, but in nature as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Big Question: Is man Inherently Good or Evil?

Throughout my career as a high school Honors English student, I have read and analyzed many different books. I have seen themes such as challenging the system in Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 and the true nature of man in books like Lord of the Flies and The Crucible. While all of the books we have read have had vastly different plots, there has been a common theme: The Struggle between Good and Evil. When I read these books, I often look at the characters in the story, and whether man is inherently good or evil. While at first the obvious choice is that man is evil, I have found that even in the most dire circumstances, man is essentially good. I look to show and discuss this evidence throughout The Road, Oedipus Rex, and all the other books we will read this year!

Cormac McCarthy's The Road documents the journey of a man and his son through post-apocalyptic America. The man is close to death, and his only concern is keeping his son safe. The Man repeatedly tells his son that they are carrying the flame and that they need to continue on. Throughout their journey they encounter other survivors that have turned to killing and cannibalism. Even though the man and the boy are starving, they do not turn to these methods. They know that it is not morally right. The man, and especially the boy, are examples of how man is inherently good. I say especially the boy because of his generosity. When they encountered otheres on the road, the boy always wanted to help and feed them. He even wanted to help a man that they had caught trying to steal all of their possessions. In The Road, man is tested, and the two main characters prove that they are inherently good.

Oedipus Rex is a play that seems to be cursed with evil characters, there is still good in the play. I can even see the good in Oedipus himself, even though he killed his own father. Near the end of the play, when he finds out that his fate has come true and he has in fact killed his father and wed his mother, Oedipus gouges his eyes out. He does this because he cannot believe what has happens. He then exiles himself for the sake of his children. He realizes how backwards and wrong his life has been, and wishes for his children to live a more normal life than his own. This is where we see the good in Oedipus. He only seems to be evil by coincidence, in that he would not have killed his father had he known it was him. In the end of the story he does what is best for his children and removes himself from the picture. This shows that in a story filled with evil, you can still find goodness, and Oedipus is inherently good.

King Lear traces the story of a number of evil characters. After reading a number of Shakespeare's works, I have found that he likes to place a few good characters among a number of evil characters. In Lear, Cordelia, Edgar, The Fool, and possibly Lear are the good characters. Reading Shakespeare makes it hard to believe that man is inherently good. I think that Shakespeare creates characters that are inherently evil, in order to show the weaknesses of man. I can't think of one of Shakespeare's works that don't have a number of truly evil characters. Goneril, Regan, and Edmund are the epitome of evil in King Lear. What makes them evil is that they are willing to do anything, even betray and kill their family members, in order to better their own situations. Both the sisters and Edmund betrayed their fathers and had them exiled so that they could gain power. It is hard to see any good in these characters, and they make it hard to prove my answer to my question. However, Cordelia and Edgar prove that there can be good. Even though they were both surrounded by evil siblings and exiled by their fathers, they continued to be inherently good. So I think that man is still inherently good, but there are always exceptions to this.