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Richard Parker: Boy Not Breakfast

Autor:   •  June 14, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,293 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,256 Views

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In May of 1884 four men set sail on the yacht The Mignonette. They were Dudley, the captain, Stephens, the first mate, Brooks, the seaman, and Parker, the cabin boy. Parker was an orphan of 17 years. As he embarked on his first journey out to sea, his mind was filled with the possibilities of life-changing experiences; he had no idea of the misfortune that was to befall him. After a few days at sea, far from land, the Mignonette was struck by a wave and forced to the ocean floor. All four crew members escaped to a lifeboat where, completely at mercy to the will of the waves, they survived for three days without food or water, with the exception of two cans of turnips. On the fourth day, the first can of turnips was opened, promptly disappearing down the throats of four starving men. A few days later they managed to catch a turtle which, along with the second can of turnips, were also gobbled up with alacrity. For the next eight days, the crew had nothing – no food, no water. Desperate for food, Dudley proposed a lottery in which the loser would be sacrificed so the others could survive. Brooks, however, shot down the idea, and the four men drifted along with grumbling stomachs. At some point, Parker consumed seawater, despite the warnings of his crew mates, and seemed to be dying. Dudley told Brooks to avert his eyes as he muttered a prayer and stabbed the distracted Parker with a pen knife. The remaining men, Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks, feasted on his flesh for another three days before they were rescued by a passing ship. It was morally wrong of Dudley to disregard Parker's absolute ownership over his own body. He had no right to interfere with Parker's freedom to satisfy his own desires.

The main point to consider is morality. Does the "greater good" really apply here? Every individual has immeasurable potential, making each and every one of us unique and 'priceless'. If one individual was viewed as another's equal, then a group consisting of the most people would have a greater value than a group consisting of less people, making the larger group "more valuable". In the event of conflict, the individuals in the smaller group would be seen as inferior, and it would be justifiable for the individuals in the larger group to disregard the needs and desires of the individuals in the smaller group. For example, Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks are three people, whereas Parker is only one person, therefore Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks are worth more than Parker. To put into mathematical terms, give each person a value of 1 unit. 1+1+1=3, and 3 is greater than 1. To look at the case this way is to give a person's life a value, which is a morally incorrect thing to do. It is wrong to pin a price tag to someone and say, "Well, we have decided that we are going to kill you, but it's okay because we're worth more than you." No single person, not even a group of people, has the

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