What do you think is more important; fidelity to your duty as a citizen, or loyalty to your obligation as a friend? The two short stories, “Cranes” and “The Sniper”, both argue this point. They are centered around war, and the difficulties it brings amongst friends and family. Both face the same dilemma, but under different circumstances. They must make one of the hardest decisions in war: whether to value their duty or their friendship.
In “The Sniper”, the sniper is battling an opponent sniper for his life during the Civil War. When left with no other route, he decides to play a ruse upon his enemy. Once he has succeeded in defeating (killing) his foe, he has an overwhelming urge to, suddenly, glance at the dead man’s face. When he looks upon the face of no one other than his own blood, his very own brother; he feels a twinge of guilt and remorse build in him. Finally, he dismisses the emotions running through him and convinces himself that he has done the right thing by following his duty and not his heart.
In “Crane’s”, however, a young Korean man by the name of Söngsām has decided to side with the government while the dispute between Southern and Northern Korea continues. He is ordered to escort the Vice President of a rebellious group to execution. When he looks upon the guilty man’s face, he sees the face of his childhood playmate, Tokchāe. Söngsām interrogates Tokchāe aplenty, at first with disgust, and later with sympathy of a concerned friend. When Tokchāe tells Söngsām about his family and as to why he decided to rebel, it strikes a nerve in Söngsām. It triggers memories that cause Söngsām to ponder on whether or not he should follow his duty. In the end, he decides to give meaning to friendship over duty; resulting in the release of Tokchāe.
Even I cannot tell you my opinion on this matter. From situation to situation, my response varies. Friendship is difficult to gain and easy to lose....