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Literature - Research Paper Example

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Introduction One of the most difficult elements when it comes to morality, the great struggle of good and evil, are the issues of independence, obedience and duty. Am I obligated to listen to my government? Or am I obligated to ignore my government? If I can veto unilaterally the decisions of my friends, family or government due to my conscience, how can they possibly cooperate with me?…
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Download file to see previous pages... Barn Burning and Silence of the Lambs develop on the theme of good and evil and individual conscience through interactions between a powerful paternal figure and a younger pupil figure. Barn Burning is commonly considered a coming-of-age story, but the way that Sarty comes of age is precisely through the development of his own conscience and the hardest lesson that someone might learn: That their father is far from a good person. Meanwhile, in its own sense, Silence of the Lambs is a coming-of-age story: A very young FBI agent is thrown into a very dangerous case and has to learn how to deal with serial killers, both investigating them and interacting with them. In both of these stories, the main characters are struggling to understand the true nature of their mentor: Sarty's father, Snopes, and Clarice's guide through the Buffalo Bill case, Hannibal Lecter. At the end of the story, Sarty sees that his father is going on an increasingly self-destructive path. His last attempt to burn down a barn had succeeded and he had gotten away with it, but Snopes cannot help himself from responding to what he viewed as disrespect by again turning to the torch. Sarty knows he has to stop this imminent act of arson and escapes from his own family to do so, but as he runs, he tries to reconcile the monster he knows with the stories he's been told. “My father, he thought. "He was brave!" he cried suddenly, aloud but not loud, no more than a whisper: "He was! He was in the war! He was in Colonel Sartoris' cav'ry!" not knowing that his father had gone to that war a private in the fine old European sense, wearing no uniform, admitting the authority of and giving fidelity to no man or army or flag, going to war as Malbrouck himself did: for booty - it meant nothing and less than nothing to him if it were enemy booty or his own”. Sarty can't know Faulkner's omniscient narrator's aside here, but the information is important to confirm that Sarty's judgments about his father are right, that his instincts are correct: There is little redeeming in the character of Snopes. Similarly, Clarice goes into her discussions with Lecter knowing that he is a monster, but struggling to come to terms with his intellect and his strength of character. She never expected someone as refined, elegant and ultimately usually quite polite. Lecter respects strength, and repeatedly rewards her insistence with information; however, he despises weakness and a lack of independence, so he sometimes refuses to aid her more. In this respect, their relationship is truly that of parent and child: The child seeking more aid, the parent being careful with how much to dole out. The truly interesting element, however, is that Lecter is offering her moral advice. He gets at the core of her psychology: Like Sarty, Clarice once saw something in her childhood that she thought was unimaginably cruel, the bleating in panic and pain of lambs (a symbol of purity and sacrifice). Clarice's motivations are to make sure she does not idly sit by again while something is butchered. The problem, though, is that Lecter's moral advice is not free and it comes from a truly questionable source. At every point, Clarice has to ask herself if Lecter is trying to get into her head to satisfy his own cravings or to advance a circuitous escape plot, or out of something resembling empathy or friendship. The last call at the end of the movie, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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