The Importance Of Guilt In James Hurst's 'The Pie'

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Guilt is one of the strongest and most prominent emotions we feel throughout our lives. Guilt can cause us to help others, push through obstacles, or make friends. Guilt, however, does not stop us from doing amoral actions. This can happen as a result of a perceived bonus outweighing the negative feeling we get from completing the action, or a heat of the moment action, where you may not fully understand the consequences of your actions. This idea is particularly prominent in The Pie, a short story by Gary Soto, where a young boy, although he was “holy in every bone”, steals an apple pie. After he finishes the pie, he feels paranoid and extremely guilty. He “knew enough about Hell to keep [him] from stealing” – he can understand that stealing…show more content…
The story is about a young boy and his little brother, who has physical and mental disabilities. The narrator threatened to “leave [his brother] here all by [himself]”, locked up in the attic, when his brother refused to touch the casket he would have died in had he not survived infancy. He feels guilty after this interaction, brooding about his cruelty and sadness, thinking that he “did it for [himself]; that pride, whose slave [he] was, spoke louder to [him] than any of their voices, and that Doodle walked only because [he] was ashamed of having a crippled brother” (line 182). In general, the narrator is both kind and unkind to his brother throughout the short story. He was kind for selfish and prideful reasons; he was unkind when he couldn’t control his emotions. It was this buildup of emotions that eventually caused Doodle’s death at the end of the story. The narrator believes he is guilty when running away from his brother, but at the time, he did it anyways – it is the in the heat of the moment when he cannot see the consequences of his actions, and ultimately, kills Doodle. Throughout the Scarlet Ibis, the cruel things the narrator does to his brother are in the heat of the moment, a characteristic crack of pride and cruelty, where he feels guilty for doing so, but cannot see what could happen as a result of his actions. Not all his actions were bad – even if he was selfish for teaching his brother how to walk, it was still altruistic since his brother truly experienced life when interacting with his brother. The important idea that the author wanted to emphasize is that although he felt guilty for doing these things, he did so

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