Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Book Thief- A Look at Morality Through Characters

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” This couldn't be more true in that someone who stands by and watches is no better than the person/group committing the immoral acts. In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak there is an ever present question of right and wrong as characters often face issues of morality. Two characters that face morality head on throughout the book are Death who narrates, and Liesel.

This book takes place during WWII and focuses more particularly on Nazi Germany and it's effect on people. Because of this setting there are questions of what is right and wrong laden all throughout the book.  This book is a narrative and is portrayed through the eyes of Death. Even Death himself faces many issues of morality. These questions and obstacles that Death faces puts him in perspective and gives him an almost humanistic side. He looks at the war and all the death and blood spilt and just doesn't understand why it has to be this way. Seen on page 550 Death states, "I am haunted by humans." (Zusak 550). This short but powerful statement says a lot about Death and his morals. When people think of "death" as a person they picture a grim reaper type character but this forces readers to think deeper. This book is surrounded around Death's contemplation of the worth of humanity, and Death's inability to understand the cruelty and compassion of which humans are simultaneously capable.

Another character who is faced with the question of morality is Liesel. Liesel is a main focus of the narrator and is dubbed the "book thief" sequentially by him. Loosing her parents at the hands of the Nazis, Liezel is haunted by her past. This I believe, however, makes her stronger and develops her as a character. Liezel is a focus when discussing morality because she herself faces right and wrong all throughout the book. For example she steals books and commits a crime but at the same time is it okay for her to do this considering the Nazis outlawing of books seems to us as readers as unnecessary and cruel. Zusak writes, "I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." (Zusak 558). This is taken from the last line Liesel writes in her novel. In saying this Liesel is saying that she has hated whats happened and how there has been so much death but at the same time she has loved writing them because they need to be heard and need to be told.

Morality is something that cannot easily be defined in words. On the contrary it's something situational that changes from person to person. In The Book Thief we see the question of morality presented to many different characters under many different situations. More particularly we see these questioned faced even more so by the Death and by Liesel, two important figures in this book. On one side Death holds many of the same morals that we as humans do, and on the other side we find Liesel who faces questions of right and wrong almost daily but always pulls through with the right decision.

My Moral Compass- What I Live By

Nearly everyone has something they live by. Whether it be values, a moral code, or simply life goals everyone should have their own moral compass. For me, my moral compass has four points, these points of which represent meaningful things in my life, the things that often keep me going. My four points on my moral compass are my passions, my values, kindness, and my family.
Let's start with my passions. For as long as I could understand politics I've been interested in politics. Everything from elections, to legislature, to the daily on goings of government, it all fascinates me. This is my passion, I hope to one day break into politics and be a key figure in the political scene, whether it be at the state or federal level. It is this goal that pushes me in school and drives me forward when I just can't go anymore. I plan to go to college and study political science and I'm even mentoring with a local politician so as to gain valuable experience and understanding.
The next point on my moral compass is my values. I believe that strong values are one of the most important things someone can have. The ability to separate right from wrong and to try and always to the right thing is extremely admirable and should be given respect. Largely in part to my parents, and of course a little guidance on my own accord, I've grown up always trying to do the right thing and to be a good person. It is this that guides me in life and helps me choose the best paths for myself as I keep going down the road.
My third point on my moral compass is kindness. I put this as my third point because I am a strong believer in being nice to everyone and making people happy when they see you. I always try to be kind to everyone, but do occasionally slip up, and in doing this I believe that I've set myself up for success and put myself on the right path for the future.
Finally, the last point on my compass is something very important to me, family. My family is always supportive of me know matter what I do and they are always there for me. This has helped me a lot because they've helped guide me and assist me when ever I may need it. Just like any other family we do fight but through it all we always stay close and try to help each other out. Out of my whole family I would have to say my parents are the most helpful. They are always pushing me but I know it's just because they want to see me be successful and go somewhere in life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Morals of Reality TV

Reality television is something that has made headway into our every day lives. From its humble beginnings of "Survivor" to the smash hit "Jersey Shore" it seems reality TV is growing in popularity and finding a way to reach nearly every target market. So what makes reality TV so interesting to people? Well who wouldn't want to watch people on TV screaming at one another. There is however a much more serious side to reality TV. Take the show "Jersey Shore" for example. It depicts Italians as loud and obnoxious people with no disregard for their "friends" let alone cultural values. While this show may be very popular in America it is actually viewed as disgusting by people living in Italy. In fact, this past summer the cast was booed by residents upon landing in Italy to shoot a new season. These reality shows put the wrong ideas in our heads and teach us its okay to do whatever you want at others expense and often glorifies things that shouldn't be glorified, such as teen pregnancy. Even more disturbing is the use of children in these shows and bringing cameraes and abnormality into what should be a normal childhood. These shows reflect badly upon us as a nation and reflect bad morals that shouldn't be followed by anyone.