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Morality – Lies – Survival The Moral Uncertainties in War


Morality– Lies – Survival: The Moral Uncertainties in War

Thereis a common theme between the three stories that is also true withregards to war. This theme is the uncertainty of morality. Whilebefore any war commence each side defends its actions by appealing onmorals, ethics, and ideals the reality is that during the war thesemorals are sacrificed, people become more concerned with thepreservation of their own respective lives than the prevalence ofmoral principles. In other words they now fight, not because of whatthey initially believed in, by by the fear of losing their own lives.

Suchuncertainty in morality is best expressed in change in stand ofMarjane’s mother to exercise the principles of justice and letAllah do the punishing or revenge of their adversary by the name ofSavak who had caused great pains to Marjane’s family. Note thatMarjane wanted to attack Savak with nails to even the odds. The wordsof Marjane’s mother were, “It is not for you and me to dojustice. I’d even say we have to learn to forgive” (Satrapi 46).Nevertheless, because of anger her mother quickly changed her standabout the matter when she heard about the tortures which some of herfamily members suffered under the hands Savak. Accordingly, “Alltortures should be massacred.” She also said “Bad people aredangerous but forgiving them is too” (Satrapi 46). In my opinionthe incomplete vale is a symbol of this moral uncertainty. Come tothink of it, Marjane’s parents were Marxists and they are living inan Islamic nation hence the incomplete vale also symbolizes acompromise between the two principles. Sometimes she is a Marxist andsometimes she is Islamic.

Moraluncertainty is also expressed in the following lines in the story TheThings They Carried, “I’d come to this war a quiet, thoughtfulsort of person, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude,all the credentials, but after seven months in the bush I realizedthat those high, civilized trappings had somehow been crushed underthe weight of the simple daily realities. I’d turned mean inside”(O’brien 190). In this particular quote O’Brien was saying thatthe values he was educated with, the quietness and the thoughtfulnesshe had learned from his college years were no longer deficient tokeep him alive in the war in Vietnam. He needed to become an animalin a jungle, he needed to kill in order to survive, he need notforgive or turn the left cheek if he was struck at the right but hitback instead and hit back really hard so that the opponent dies andnot strike back. On another event he explained, “By tellingstories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it fromyourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You startsometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in theshit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that didnot in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain”(O’Brien 152). In this particular quote O’Brien was explainingthat in order to keep the conscience clear from the guilt broughtabout by the lies and immoralities committed during the war, he triesto put things that are real to things that he just created in hisstories. In other words, truth and lies all mixed up in order tocover his shame and his creeping conscience. In the story, O’briensymbolizes this moral dilemma, this moral uncertainty the physicalburdens of the characters – the things they carried.

Lastly,the Story Maus also exhibits the theme of moral uncertainty in thefollowing quote, “Friend? Your Friends? If you lock them togetherin a room with no food for a week… Then you could see what it is,friends!” (Spiegelman vi). Here, the author was emphasizing how thethings doen in the war contradict the basic virtues of love andfriendship. How one person mistreats another despite believing ingood moral values. Moral uncertainty is also expressed in thefollowing quote, “At that time it wasn’t anymore families. It waseverybody t take care of himself” (116). Here the values of unityand love are replaced by greed or the desire of once welfare over theothers – even with family members. The symbolism use in this storyare the animals. In my opinion, the story simply states by the use ofanimals that human no longer behave according to their values andmorals during the times of war, but with their instinct to surviveand kill – they are becoming like unto animals.

Inconclusion, the three stories do not say that humans like war – infact, humans hate war for obvious reasons. These reasons include theloss of thousands of lives and the sacrifice of the most treasurevirtues. War causes the sacrifice of morals and virtues andeverything we believed to be worth believing and upholding duringtimes of peace in order to merely survive the cords of death that wetry to inflict each other during the troubled times.


O’Brien,Tim. The Things They Carried. 2009. Web. 31 March 2014.&lthttp://corysnow.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/ttc-full-text.pdf&gt.

Satrapi,Marjane. Persepolis. California: L’Association. 2005. Print.

Spiegelman,Art. Maus: A &nbspSurvivor`s Tale Morality and Ethics. 1992. Web. 31March 2014.&lthttps://archive.org/stream/MAUS_tomes_1-2_fr/Maus-01_Mon-Pere-Saigne-l_histoire#page/n5/mode/2up&gt.