Suffering is the pain and sorrow in which a person could endure that could bring out the best or worst within a person. In Life of Pi written by Yann Martel and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, the main characters both experience different kind of pain and suffering and used different method to survive or fulfill their needs and desire. Suffering brings out the worst in a person
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Human had both a good and bad personality within them and will not reveal it unless they reach their limit of suffering. For example, pi experience the need of thirst and hunger for him to survive when he is running low on the survival food kit; therefore he had to killed fishes and turtle for food and water. Martel writes, “It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer” (Martel 61.231). He was an innocence boy for 16 years with a vegetarian diet and now he killed a living creature for the first time. He is not just suffering from lack of food and water but also the fact that he lost his family at sea and now stuck with a 450-lbs tiger. Being thirsty and needed water, Pi realized that the manual mentioned that turtle blood is a good source of water and very nutritional therefore the worst of him made him kill the turtle for its blood, “I drank the blood to the last drop” (69.254). With all the suffering, Pi was struggling to survive and letting the worst of him take over by killing living things and stealing water from Richard parker. People will do evil deeds when they are struggling for survival.
The misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is also putting his suffering behind his evil action against the grandma and her family. He was suffering from the punishment he was put in after committing a crime. O’Connor writes, “They could prove I had committed one because they had the papers on me” (O’Connor 384). He just could not fit his crime into his punishment because he never saw the paper that proven him guilty. The head doctor told him that all the misfit did was kill his father but the misfit know that he didn’t kill his father because he know exactly where his father was buried and that his father die “of the epidemic flu”(382). He know that he did not kill anyone or stole from anyone because no one had anything that he wanted but then punish for something that he didn’t do. O’Connor also writes, “Does it seem right to you, lady, that one is punished a heap and another ain’t punished at all?” (384). He just find it wrong for someone to be punished so much while another person is not punished at all or had very little punishment for his or her action. The misfit put the blame on Jesus because “Jesus was the only one that ever raised the dead” (384). If his father were brought back from the dead, he would had not been punished but his father were not brought back from the dead; therefore he is being punished for a crime that he did not recall doing.
God is also a question to either it plays a role in suffering or not. According to Carol Troupe “God who is supposedly on the side of those who suffer most, but does not end or even appear to alleviate their suffering?” (Troupe. 2). When someone sees that someone else is suffering, they will look toward gods for strength but for some people they will lose hope in god completely. People who believe in god would believe that suffering would come to an end when god decided to end their suffering. Cone quote, “those that believed that God would bring slavery to an end and apply god’s justice, but that it would be in God’s time and in God’s way” (4). The misfit and Cone believes that god is the only one who had conqueror suffering and death itself by coming back to life but they also argues that if Jesus was able to conqueror suffering and death then why does suffering and death still exist. While struggling to survive pi was praying and had a lot of hope for god but at the same time he end up killing living creature and stealing water from Richard Parker. To get what he desire or the need for survival, he had to torture another living creature “The thing was gasping for water, its mouth and gills opening and closing slowly” (Martel 61.230). It’s not just human that suffers, all kind of living things also face suffering as much as human.
Pain is not necessary required for someone to suffer, for example Pi is suffering from distress without no physical pain. Suffering is defines as “to endure death, pain, or distress” (Carnevale 2). Many people may think that suffering is pain but the investigation on emotion by Peter Hacker’s Framework “demonstrating that suffering is an emotion” (2). Pain is like the cause and suffering is the effect; the more pain you receive the more you suffer. There are 4 types of feeling according to Hacker’s framework; the four types of feelings are tactile perception, sensations, natural appetites and affection. Both Pi and the Misfit both experience all or at least one of the 4 types of feeling, for example Pi face all 4 of them because he was trying to keep himself warm during the storm, lack of food and water supply, had physical pain when he try to tame Richard parker, and being out at sea all by himself.
Some people may argue that suffering brings out the best in a person rather the bringing out the worst in a person. A philosopher by the name of Lucian Alexandru Radu writes, “Suffering is not a disease, but it is the signal that announce us that we suffer from a disease” (Radu 2). Although people may learn how to let go of their pain and learn from their suffering, for example war may influence people to stop killing others because of all the violence but on the other hand it may influence people to keep killing each other because they are not on the same side or are their enemy. People who are smart or had a better of understand would not think of negative action like “to cure life by killing is indeed a medical solution only for worthy of a paranoid physician, not of one that is mentally sane” (2). It does not matter if someone is mentally sane or not, they will do what they had to do to fulfill their desire. The misfit had to kill the family because he does not believe in crimes while Pi killed living creature for the need for food and water.
Individuals had their own suffering. Suffering could be good or bad depends on how one’s action is. Most of the time the worst will be reveal when someone is suffering because people will do something bad, evil, or stupid just to get attention, or survive. On the other hand suffering may also be a good thing because people will eventually learn from mistake of other people and learn from other’s action. Although suffering may be good or bad, the action from a person is linked back to the thinking of their mind. If he feels like he is suffering and had to do what he can to get away from suffering then he will do whatever it take to get rid of his or her suffering.
Carnevale, Franco A. “A Conceptual And Moral Analysis Of Suffering.” Nursing Ethics 16.2 (2009): 173-183. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Arguing Through Literature: A Thematic Anthology and Guide to Academic Writing. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.373-85. Print.
Radu, Lucian Alexandru. “The Buddhist Philosophy And The “Problem” Of Suffering.” Scientific Journal Of Humanistic Studies 3.4 (2011): 39-46. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
Troupes, Carol. “Human Suffering In Black Theology.” Black Theology: An International Journal 9.2 (2011): 199-222. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Nov. 2012
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