A labyrinth is classically a human construction designed to confuse. It can trap our lives, hiding our past and future and constantly forcing us to make choices, even though we may not know what the consequences of those choices might be. The confusion of the puzzle may even tempt us to run blindly through the labyrinth, ending in disaster. Life itself is often considered such a labyrinth, and by adopting the strategies of travelers who came before and choosing our path cautiously while playing close attention to the patterns of our lives, we may find the right path through the maze. Although the Labyrinth appears to be an intellectual challenge, every turn is accompanied by an ethical dilemma as well. "The Garden of Forking Paths" is both an ethical and intellectual riddle. Consideration of Yu Tsun's intellectual choices must be accompanied by consideration of his ethical choices. The most terrifying aspect of the garden of forking paths is that the ending of the maze is never in sight. Often, we are aware of only the obvious consequences of taking any particular turn, while the obscure consequences are rarely anticipated. As a result, we can not be sure where the next turn will bring us until we have made the choice. An action of tremendous personal significance, such as Stephen Albert's murder, may have no greater consequences than a winning a battle in a war that the German's could possibly end up losing. Ts'ui Pên himself was murdered by a stranger before he had a chance to explain the nature of his labyrinth, while the current war was started by another homicidal stranger. The choices made by these men within their labyrinths have brought Yu Tsun to Stephen Albert's home, to become the stranger who will kill Albert. The action of the story seems inevitable, yet such inevitability is a deception. The path we have chosen may appear to be the only path that can be taken, but in reality, the possibilities are far more complex, as Albert explains that Ts'ui...
Cited: Borges, Jorge Luis. "The Garden of Forking Paths." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth,and Kelly J. Mays. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.
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