The Honorable Life of A Lone Warrior – English Essay
A city burning as an army of invader’s waits at the gate. A lone Warrior stand on top of a hill ready to die a nameless death defending his homeland. A woman works two jobs too support her children, yet still
somehow makes it to every parent teacher association meeting. An innocent man sits on death row as his lawyer fights for years to prove his innocence. Another man, guilty of the murder he was charged with, is released from prison. His one wish is to somehow help the family of that he has hurt so badly. A child shoplifts a candy bar, but as they are walking out, they turn around, confess to thier crime, return the candy bar, and gives the shop-keeper the money that they would have paid for the candy-bar. A vagabond stumbles accross a dying man, too late to save him, but just in time to hear the man’s dying wish. He pleads with the vagabond to take his wedding ring to his life, and inform her of his fate. The vagabond travels for years in his search before finally finding the man’s wife. After the vagabond delievers the news, he is offered any reward he chooices in return for his service. The vagabond ask for nothing and quietly slips away into the night. A young man, after facing years of abuse at the hands of his own alcholic father is about to become a father himself. As he looks into his childs eyes for the first time he makes promise to himself that he will never visit any harm onto his child.
Today we have many many stories like the ones above. Each one tries to teach a the same lesson. How to be honorable. But have we in our time given up our honor. Has it just become term we use to describe something. What is honor? What does it mean to be honorable? According The American Heritage dictionary it means “Possessing integrity.” What then would be integrity? An example of what integrity is not is given in Stephen L. Carter’s essay, “The Insufficency of Honesty” In that eassy Carter writes, “Consider an example. A man who has been married fifty years confesses to his wife on his deathbed that he was unfaithful thirty-five years earlier. The dishonesty was killing his spirit, he says. Now he has cleared his conscience and is able to die in peace.”(322) Some mind say at least he was honest. That would be a mistake in thinking. The only way for him to have salvaged any form of integrity and honor having broken his marriage vow would have been for him to have confessed thirty-five years prior and face the consequence of his actions. As Carter also writes, “Besides, even though the husband has been honest in a sense, he has now twice been unfaithful to his wife: once thirty-five years ago, when he had his affair, and again when, nearing death he decided that his own peace of mind was more important then hers.”(323) So there is an example of what integrity is not. The best example of integrity would be the story of the shoplifting child at the beginning of this essay. The child did something wrong, realized it, and immediately returned to face the consequences ofthier actions.
So now there is a loose idea of what integrity is. Now let’s return to the original question. What is honor?
The many tellings of the legends of King Arthur have always been an example of honor. Arthur and his knights of the round table. But which version shows what honor actually is. The way the story is told in the movie “Excalibur” tells the story of a man simply trying to bring peace to his people, beset on all sides by obsticles and betrayels. The more recent movie “King Arthur” shows a very differant Arthur. In that telling Arthur is a roman general charged with defending Romes northern outpost of Britain. His knights are conscripts from Sarmatia, a land conquered by the romans many years before the events of Arthur’s life. Despite that, they are actually his closets friends. His only wish is for them, and everyone else to live free lives. A belief he thinks is shared by everyone back in rome. During the course of the movie he discovers that the bright and shiny version of Rome he has been holding onto in his heart is untrue. Rome at this point has declined to near collapse. Men are enslaved, corruption is rampent, and everything he believes in is thrown into question. This Arthur’s delimia is his belief that high ideals are useless unless they serve a higher purpose. His inital higher purpose is Rome, but when that dream is shattered he slowly realizes that the higher purpose does not have to be represented by a place. It is by the deeds you you do in order to better those around.
From all of this we are still left wondering how honor fits into our soceity today. Years ago people held honor in much higher regard. Some were even willing to fight to the death at the slightest hint of someone dishonoring them. At the end of World War 2 thousands of Japanese citizens commited suicide in order to cleanse themselves of the stain to thier honor from thier government surrendering to the allies. Today honor is something few people strive for. It is not something you can define easily. It is a collection of ideals, virtues, and beliefs that one must constantly try to live up too. An honorable life may not be an easy life, but it is a rewarding life.
The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of readings 4th Ed. (2003)
Donald Mcquade and Robert Atwan
The Insufficiency of Honesty Pg. 321- 326
Stephen L. Carter
King Arthur(Movie, 2004)
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: David Franzoni
Directed by: John Boorman
Written by: Thomas Malory
Adapted for Screen by: Rospo Pallenberg
Directed by: Ed Solomon
Written by : Ed Solomon