Significance of Timely Self-Realization

Topics: Short story, Anton Chekhov, Flannery O'Connor Pages: 3 (1350 words) Published: August 8, 2011
For this assignment, I’m going to examine the themes central to Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet” and Flannery O’Conner’s “A Good man is Hard to Find”. These stories share a common and important element that changes the characters: timely self-realization after a moment of awareness. In the following paragraphs, I will examine how the characters undergo that process and change after an ironic twist. “The Bet” is a short story that explores the value of human life. It compares the theme of materialism to the achievement of truth, and how the process of self-realization leads to an awakening and changes in the characters. The banker is a rich and pompous man who doesn’t care giving a second thought in his unrestrained extravagance. The lawyer is a greedy man who could do anything for the sake of money. They wage a bet on the idea of death penalty and life time imprisonment. The banker puts on the line two million dollars compared to the lawyer’s fifteen-year solitary confinement. Everything we do has consequences. The banker loses his fortune and could not pay off the debt. Finally, he realizes the futility and irrationality of the bet. While he resolves to kill the lawyer, an important ironic twist happens. He finds out that the lawyer escapes before 5 hours till the end of their bet. Nevertheless, who is the real winner of the bet? Is it the banker who has the fortune to pay off his debt or the lawyer who becomes a sage after tasting and seeing everything on this world through reading the books? Personally, I think the actual winner is the lawyer. Life without material goods can still be good. Specifically, we can see the profound spiritual awakening of the lawyer in the letter that he writes to the banker. “In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms… Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed...
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