It is very difficult to judge a person and whether or not they are virtuous because while you know their story, you never completely know where they stand, their feelings and emotions, or their intentions. It is very difficult to determine whether a person wanted to do good for others, do good for others to benefit himself, or harm others to benefit himself- there are so many possible ways to go. Below is a list based on my initial interpretations of the individuals. The following are a list of people which I found to be virtuous:
- I believe the son was virtuous because he came to visit the father during a time in which he needed attention, stayed with the father, cared for him by cooking meals, etc. and left him money. While it can be pointed out that the son was not there for a great deal of time, it is necessary to recognize that the son also had his own needs to attend to and there were circumstances preventing him from leaving America because of immigration status etc. Also, virtue has a great deal to do with balance.
- I believe that the ex-wife was virtuous because she came to visit the main character in the hospital and advocated for him during his time of need b requesting he get other opinions and go to other facilities etc. She also paid for the Man’s medical bills while he was in the hospital- might this have been out of guilt of what her brother had done? Perhaps. But either way, she was not responsible nor expected to have paid those bills.
- The Man’s mother and father were virtuous people because while they may not have shown it in ways which we traditionally value, they did what was right for their family and advocated for them the whole time, wanting better for their family as a whole.
The following are people I did not think were virtuous:
- The pretty girl was not at all virtuous. She was selfish in meeting her own needs and seemed to have little regard for the Man’s feelings even though it was evident that they were involved and she was leading him on in thoughts of togetherness. He had very clear feelings for her and she often toyed with him by not calling him regularly and taking advantage of him when the timing was convenient for her, etc.
- The teacher was not a virtuous man because he took his anger and dissatisfaction of his position as a teacher out on his students and instead of challenging them to benefit their intelligence, punished them for forming their own opinions or learning.
- The guard was not a virtuous man because when the Man was being threatened, he killed the alleged attacker and I feel that that was unnecessary. He could have protected the man, the main character in a better way, without having to be so brutal. Even if he had to kill the attacker, he could have been more respectful towards human life.
- The brother in law was not at all a virtuous man because he saw the Man’s aging state as a weakness and found that he could perhaps utilize this to his benefit. When the Man was in the hospital is poor condition, he took the money that as allotted to be used to better the company and ran with it.
I do not know where to stand on my opinions of the man. I can not help but recognize that this fortune was built upon deceiving other people because of the water business and how that was a phony product. The water wasn’t natural or pure- it was water that had just been boiled. However, the man was virtuous in other things such as taking care of his parents, giving his sister and brother money when they needed it, tending to the pretty girl’s needs (although he was infatuated, so that wouldn’t have been granted as ethical, more just seeking praise). Towards the end, I decided that the man was indeed virtuous because it seemed as though he discovered what the important things in life are and never intentionally hurt anyone for his own benefit. It was more of a gamble or “this water may not be safe”. Either way, I finally decided, based on the integration of many of the theories of philosophy we have discussed thus far, that the man was virtuous, just perhaps a little lost and misguided.
There were many situations in the book that were morally right and morally wrong. The following are the situations which stood out to me the most as wrong.
The conditions in which the family was living in during the time they were in the rural area and the urban area were wrong.
The fact that the brother and sister were denied schooling and the Man was able to go to school was wrong.
The fact that the Man was personally greeted by the Doctor because of the money he had, his status symbols, and the contribution he made to the hospital prior was not good- all of the patients should have been treated like that.
The fact that the mother had to die in such a way because the medical care was too much of a burden for the family to carry- that was wrong.
The way that the Man was humiliated by the teacher while he was in school for stating the correct answer to the multiplication table, while the teacher was the one who really made the mistake- that was wrong.
The fact that the boy stole the DVD for the girl was wrong.
The fact that the boy and the girl had sex on the roof at such a young age and then the girl told him that she was leaving the next day- that whole situation was wrong.
The way the pretty girl’s father acted towards both the pretty girl and the pretty girl’s mother was wrong.
The way the Man was held up at gunpoint and threatened was wrong.
The way the Man’s guard shot the individual that threatened the Man was wrong.
The fact that the Man build an empire of a business on selling water that was merely just boiled as opposed to natural, spring water- it may have had the ability to make many people sick, and that is considered causing harm.
The fact that the Man wasn’t appreciative of his wife was wrong. The fact that they were divorced after their child was grown- that was wrong.
The fact that businesses and companies had to form partnerships based on money and payments with the bureaucrats to gain easier access to certain things and establish protection from certain things- that was not good, or right, or just.
When the brother-in-law stole his money and ran while he was in the hospital in poor shape- that was wrong.
The fact that the father took the family to the city with him so that they could have a better life and education was good.
The fact that the boy was able to go to school was good.
The fact that the Man felt threatened and so was able to get protection (the fact that the guard killed someone was not moral) was good.
The cohabitation between the pretty girl and the Man in the latter years of their life was very good because they were able to fulfill each other’s fundamental needs of loving and caring and rekindle some past feelings which may have caused grief if not tended to.
There were many instances in the story, which increased either one’s pleasure or one’s suffering.
When the father decided to bring his children to the city, that was a situation presenting itself as ultimate pleasure- although some suffering to get to that point of success was inevitable.
The mother’s illness was obviously a situation in which suffering was imminent.
The sister being forced into an arranged marriage and back to the village was a form of suffering, and her quickened aging and early death presented as suffering for her obviously, and for her family, the Man included.
The brother’s employment by the painter caused suffering because he was often not protected properly and was coughing and got sick frequently.
The entire situation between the Man and the pretty girl caused much suffering on the Man’s part because he loved her and thought of her often, it just never worked out between them because of the pretty girl’s status and ambitions and the boy’s status at certain times throughout the novel.
The pretty girl’s status presented as pleasurable because of the fact that she had a lot of money and traveled often. However, towards the end of the novel, when she has been alone by herself in the townhouse, with tenants who did not pay much attention to her- that could have been interpreted as suffering.
Technology aiding the Man to communicate with his son over seas at an internet café- that was a situation that presented itself with much pleasure because the man was able to keep in touch regularly.
When the guard brutally killed the Man’s attacker, that caused much suffering.
The divorce between the Man and his wife caused suffering for all three parties- the Man, the Wife, and the son.
The Man’s business in bottling water and selling/distributing it presented itself as a form of pleasure for the man because of the money and status symbols it provided, while could have caused suffering to many because of the people that were harmed (the attacker) and those that could have potentially fallen ill due to the uncleanliness of the product.
The conditions of Asia were prime for suffering among the majority of the population as a whole, those in poverty, overcrowded cities, etc.
There were many characters and situations which could have been interpreted as either moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. It all depends on our own opinions and upbringings, and which theorist we identify most with. All in all, I think the Man was ethical and truly just tried to better himself and just got lost along the way, loosing his nuclear family by becoming all wrapped up with what society things the important things are- this happens often. When he died, he was alone. He had a delusion that the pretty girl, his son and his ex wife were with him. In reality- the pretty girl had died, his son was in America, and his wife was with her current husband. It was sad to learn that he was ultimately alone. However, it was comforting knowing that at the end, him and the pretty girl were able to spend their last memories together.