Moral Disintergration of America Exposed in The Winter of Our Discontent
The Winter of Our Discontent The life of Ethan Allen Hawley, which had for so long held to an irrefutable ethical standard, was about to undergo an unexpected and irreversible change. Likewise he was not alone; progress was descending upon all of New Baytown like the jets which swarmed "with increasing regularity" (196) at the nearby Templeton airfield. With them was coming a new breed, more and more focused on material wealth rather than honesty and principle. Ethan’s fourteen-year old son, Allen, was the embodiment of this new morality by which money was God and "morals are paintings on wall and scruples are money in Russia" (from the movie Sabrina, 1995). There was only one goal for this "forward-looking group" (141): money; and as Allen so clearly states, for them "it’s all dough, no matter how you get it" (91).
Ethan had always believed there existed certain "unchanging rules" (217) of basic kindness and decency which had always, and should always, govern men. He lived his life simply and honestly, guided by visions of his grandfather and Aunt Deborah who had, from his early youth, instilled in him this strong moral foundation; he was" the kid with the built-in judge" (153). The rules, however, were changing, and changing rapidly. No longer would virtue be the deciding factor when faced with temptation; if one stood to gain from a situation, "who gets hurt? Is it against the law?" (34). Quite the contrary, by the new standards, it would be a crime to act on one’s own behalf. Moral consequences were irrelevant; the only consideration was success, and "success is never bad" (239). Those still cl...
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...the end, Ethan’s scheme was a success; the store was his, and the most important piece of property in town now lay under his name. The Hawley name would once again command respect in New Baytown. He had needed only to adopt the new morality for a moment, like a man trying on a different suit . . . The only "trouble with a well-made suit, it lasts too long" (233), a truth Baker knew only too well. Too late, Ethan realized that abandoning his entire code of ethics was not so simple a matter; even if he did return to his old principles, as if he had never strayed from them, his conscience would be forever marred by his indiscretions.
Not hat the rest of the world would ever notice. Maybe he’d got a little blood on his fingers, but Ethan had fought the fight; and more importantly, he’d won. "After all, in the end "it’s all dough, no matter how you get it" (91).
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