Morality is, in essence, subjugated by he who defines it. This being the case, morality (defined as right or wrong, good or evil) is malleable as long as it does not impede upon any “ipso facto virtue”(Didion). In the essay “On Morality”, by Joan Didion, this aspect ‘on morality’ is composed. This will be utilized to verify that William Saroyan’s (author of “Five Ripe Pears) guilt of an immoral action is conflicting given specified conditions. To begin, “On Morality” is an essay of a woman who travels to Death Valley on an assignment arranged by The American Scholar.
“I have been trying to think, because The American Scholar asked me to, in some abstract way about ‘morality,’ a word I distrust more every day…. ” Her task is to generate a piece of work on morality, with which she succeeds notably. She is placed in an area where morality and stories run rampant. Several reports are about; each carried by a beer toting chitchat. More importantly, the region that she is in gains her mind; it allows her to see issues of morality as a certain mindset. The idea she provides says, as human beings, we cannot distinguish “what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’”.
Morality has been so distorted by television and press that the definition within the human conscience is lost. This being the case, the only way to distinguish between good or bad is: all actions are sound as long as they do not hurt another person or persons. This is similar to a widely known essay called “Utilitarianism” Morality and the Good Life by J. S. Mills with which he quotes “… actions are right in the proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. ”Consequently, Saroyan’s action of taking pears could be viewed as moral or immoral given certain circumstances.
At the age of six, Saroyan was categorized as a thief for taking five pears from a tree. His argument, although a spiked fence protected the pear tree, is “some branches grew beyond the fence. ”This, to Saroyan, makes whatever is on the exposed branches public property. With Didion’s argument of morality, Saroyan is only guilty of immorality if his action hurt another individual/individuals. Thus, two seemingly obvious circumstances will be examined being as impartial as possible.
Case one: First and foremost, the owner of the pear tree seems like an immediate victim of the taking of the fruit, although nothing is said about him/her in the essay. Being a full-grown pear tree, “I couldn’t reach the pears, so I started leaping” (aspect of a large tree: having to leap to reach its branches) it seems clear that there are several other pears on the tree. As a result, the owner most likely would not be at loss for 5 measly pears. Verdict: Not guilty. Case two: Saroyan as a child can be viewed as a victim.
By this analysis he is a victim of 1) unmerited guilt of an act 2) and an undeserved licking. You may ask yourself does this make him guilty. With Didion’s view on morality (as long as no one is hurt the action it is acceptable) this makes Saroyan guilty of an immoral feat. Although Saroyan was reared several times in school, “…I got a lot of them lickings in grammar school. ” he was impartial to it.
Yet, this time he felt he was not guilty and didn’t deserve the beating, making him wrongly handled. This proves that Saroyan himself was a victim of distress, being put in a hurtful situation of whipping (if he knowingly recognized that repercussion of his action before doing acting). Verdict: Guilty as charged. In a few words, Didion’s morality makes Saroyan guilty because of the pain he endured because of his taking of the five ripe pears. Whether or not he stole the pears (and deserved the beating) is a substandard to whether or not someone was hurt by stealing them. Given that Saroyan was hurt he is blameworthy of an immoral action.