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Discussion#4

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Discussion The two stories “ Guest of Nation” and “ Another way to die” both deal with death of enemy soldiers. However, in the first story, the prisoners of war who are Englishmen and their captors who are Irishmen, spend some time together as friends and buddies, before the order comes for them to be killed. Yet despite the friendship that has blossomed between them, the Irishman Bonaparte’s duty as a member of the armed forces overcomes his duty as a human being and despite his sympathy for his chum, he fires the fatal shot. It is this failure in his duty as a human being that prompts Bonaparte to remark “ and I was somehow very small and very lost and lonely like a child astray in the snow.  And anything that happened to me afterwards, I never felt the same about it again” (OConnor 1163). As opposed to this, in the story of “ Another way to die” an innocent bystander – a veterinarian – examines a soldier to check whether he is dead, when all of a sudden the almost-corpse grabs him with a death grip and topples him into a pit containing eight dead men. This cold clasp of death is the spur that makes the veterinarian think, “ I’ll never get rid of this coldness again”. This quote is prompted by the veterinarian’s unwitting close brush with death, which leaves him uneasy from its clammy grip, while the changed feelings in Bonaparte arise from natural inner shame at his act of killing a man who had become a friend.
The context of the two statements is therefore quite different and does not support a conclusion that both of them are similar people. Bonaparte is a soldier fighting a war, the veterinarian is a doctor who is involved only peripherally in the war. Bonaparte has taken action and killed a soldier friend, the veterinarian did not kill anyone, he was a doctor who was checking the pulse of a dead man. While Bonaparte as a soldier was involved in the business of taking lives, the veterinarian as a doctor was involved in the business of saving lives. Bonaparte killed his good friend even in a different setting – a remote boarding house. The veterinarian is also located in a zoo setting rather than directly on the battle field but he is close to the war because he soldiers move through the area each day, yet even in this war setting, he is saved by the very same lieutenant who had just buried four men and ordered the killing of four more.
The dissimilarities between the men also arises out of the context within which the two stories are placed, despite the fact that both of them were involved in a war situation. For instance, the English prisoners are so harmless, Bonaparte remarks that he “ couldn’t at the time see the point of me and Noble guarding Belcher and Hawkins at all……after the first day or two we gave up all pretense of keeping a close eye on them.” (O’Connor 1155). However, the Japanese lieutenant is portrayed as a dangerous man, a man who is exhausted during the war, yet alert enough and cold blooded enough to teach his soldiers how to kill a man with bayonets and with a bat.
In a situation such as Bonaparte faced, where friendship had bloomed, there is a greater expectation that arises that the soldier will find his humanity rising to the fore, so that he does the noble thing and saves his friend. But Bonaparte chooses to kill the Englishman. On the other hand, the veterinarian found himself in a somewhat dangerous and unpredictable situation, with a lieutenant who did not hesitate to kill. Yet it is the lieutenant who saves him from the clammy grip of death. Therefore, the two men are not similar – Bonaparte was affected by his encounter with death because he chose to administer it; the veterinarian was affected because he almost became one of the dead.
References:
* Murakami, Haruki. Ánother way to die” Retrieved October 29, 2007 from: http://www. geocities. jp/yoshio_osakabe/Haruki/Books/ANOTHER-WAY-TO-DIE. html
* OConnor, Frank, 2003. “ Guests of the Nation.”  The Story And Its Writer.(6th edn). Boston: Bedford/St. Martins: 1154-1163

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