Every day, people make several decisions that more or less influence their live. However, it is necessary to consider other people and results before the decisions were made, since selfish decisions can cause lots of problems. The selfish choices that selected by the main characters in both “On the Rainy River” and “A Pair of Silk Stocking” cause regret and raise conflict between the main characters and themselves . Regret can be caused by selfish decisions.
On the one hand, O’Brien, the narrator of the “On the Rainy River” felt guilty and worried about his families during the way to Canada because he fled away from the war: “I would go to the war–I would kill and maybe die –because I was embarrassed not to. That was the sad thing” (O’Brien 12). Clearly, O’Brien explained why he decided to go to Canada and continued his life without contradicting his own beliefs. Here he lost his chance at having personal happiness and would have to live with regret from then on.
Even though, O’Brien went back and join the army in the end, he still could not get away from the guilt that rose by his decisions: “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war” (O’Brien 14). Unlike most people, O’Brien did not regarded surviving form the war as a fortunate thing for him, instead, O’Brien considered himself as a coward and did not forgive himself for making the inappropriate decision from now on. On the other hand, Mrs.
Sommer, the major character of “A Pair of Silk Stockings” also felt guilty about her family, for the mother used up all the fifteen pounds to purchase accessories and entertained herself instead of buying “so and so many yards of percales for new shirt waists for the boys and Janie and Mag”(Chopin 1). The fifteen pounds were supposed to spend on the clothing of their children according to Mrs. Sommers’s plan at beginning, but she spent all for herself.
By the end of day, she did not want to go home: “in truth he saw noting—unless he were wizard enough to detect a poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on forever” (Chopin 3). Mrs. Sommers’s thought reflected her regret since she wished the cable can run forever, so that she did not need to go back home and face her families. Obviously, personal happiness cannot be achieved by selfishness, doing this can create nothing but regret that will follow a person through their life. Furthermore, the selfishness gives raise to conflict between people and themselves.
In “On the Rainy River”, on the one side, O’Brien felt he was “too good for the war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything” (O’Brien 3) since the war is completely unreasonable for him. He did not want to be killed or kill anyone else. On the other side, he found himself is completely irresponsible for both his family and country, for the simple reason that he neither supported his country nor protected his family during the most dangerous time. Due to his strong sense of morality and the honourable values like bolstering his own country, O’Brien struggled with two conflicting forces in himself.
Similarly, Mrs. Sommers struggled against herself to repress the urges and temptation of the luxury items. At first, she planned to spend the money on her children. However, as soon as she entered the department store, she had a powerful desire for a moment of luxury. She tried to hide the desire because of her economic situations. Eventually “she went on feeling the soft, sheeny luxurious things—with both hands now, holding them up to see them glisten, and feel them glide serpent-like through her fingers.
Two hectic blotches came suddenly into her pale cheeks” (Chopin 2) and undoubtedly she succumbed to her desires. By the end of the short story, Mrs. Sommers was extraordinarily desperate for the luxurious life to never end “a poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on and on with her forever” (Chopin 3). The cable in some way symbolized her dream life since at that time only wealthy people were able to afford cable. Her wish represented she still wanted to enjoy the feeling of that unrealistic luxurious life and was unwilling to return back to reality.
Ultimately , being selfish leads to the conflicts between people and themselves and annoyance in their life. Overall, the two short stories namely “On the Rainy River” and “A Pair of Silk Stockings” emphasized the negative impact of selfishness on human life. Both O’Brien and Mrs. Sommer suffered the regret and conflicting forces that rose by their selfishness. Therefore it is necessary to consider the result before making a decision since selfish decisions, in long term, cannot bring any happiness and self-satisfactory.
Courtney from Study Moose
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