TPAOL Question #10 - Abraham & Isaac

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TPAOL Question #10 - Abraham & Isaac

Unread postby Liz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:39 pm

Oops. I slept in too late this morning.... :blush:

On Pg. 257:

‘Wait,’ said Samarin, raising his hands a little. He didn’t gesture much. ‘Of course I was afraid of the Mohican. I did long to believe that we’d become too close for him to use me in that way, and the more close it seemed to me we were, the more terrifying my imagining the moment when he would turn on me. But out there on the river, when we ran and the whole of nature was trying to kill us with cold, and even before, in the camp, where he was protecting me and fattening me up, the comfort I drew from thinking of him as a father was greater than the horror I felt at the thought of him as my butcher. Don’t you think it would have been the same for Isaac? Abraham’s son?’ There was a new edge to Samarin’s voice, as if, now, he was trying to persuade her of something, although she couldn’t think what it might be. ’Isaac knew his father was going to kill him, yet he trusted him, and believed him, and loved him to the last.’

What do you think Samarin is really saying here?

And on the same page he goes on to say:

“I say this not out of any disrespect for your late husband, but I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘cannon fodder’. I believe it’s worse to feed hundreds of thousands of men you don’t know to the guns than to feed one man you know to yourself.”

Do you agree or disagree?
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Unread postby gemini » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:10 pm

Woah Liz another heavy one! :perplexed:

With the first paragraph, I think Samarin was trying to justify to himself what he did as well as convince Anna.

The cannon-fodder quote has always been one that bothers me because of the truth in it. No offence ladies, just my opinon. :twocents:
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:49 pm

None taken, Gemini. I tend to agree that there is a lot of truth in it. And that makes the whole concept even more disturbing.

I do think he was trying to convince Anna that what he does is justifiable, although, she didn’t realize that he was the Mohican. And that is one of the things that I find interesting—that he is speaking from the point of view of his sacrifical lamb, his victim. He is making up the story. But the story is the same—just the names have been changed. I’m just curious how he can talk about the comfort his victim drew from him. Where is that coming from?
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Unread postby Charlene » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:00 pm

Oh, I have never liked that story in the bible. It also harkens back to what they say about horribly abused children...they will chose to go back to their abuser because it is the only home they know.

Sam. wore many faces...he could switch on and off...a good spy he was. His life consisted of so many untruths, halftruths, and convulted truths, that I guess he started to believe his own stories. I think with Anna, he told her what she wanted to hear.
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Unread postby Lady Jill » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:43 pm

My take here is that Samarin was a full blown pyschopath. Amagine making up that whole story about the Mohican! Mohicans are native American indians. so I see where it came out of his amagination. Then again, his trek back from the White Gardens may have left his mind dangling in shreds, so it WAS easy to make up the Mohican. Can we not start believing something that happened so true and have it become like it is a reality?

Regards him babbling all about it to Anna. . .well, we know there are men out there that love to woo women in ways that makes them feel all puffed up like a displaying peacock! That was Samarin to me!

Canon Fodder ? Yes, I agree here. But war seems to say human lives are dispensible, always has been and probably always will be..
My question here is there a God of peace? Like why are there always hot heads that want to conquer all , that seemingly have no regards for humanity ?? Perhaps it does have a great deal to do with how that person was raised?!

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Unread postby Parlez » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:53 pm

:fear: Oh oh, here we go into dangerous territory again - yikes!
But what comes up for me with this passage is Samarin's 'undefined' personality, as Matula called it...his ability to 'be' both sides of the story...or to be any side of any story he wants to tell. That's brilliant acting!!
For Sam to make the analogy to Isaac and Abraham might show his desire (need) to frame his actions in grand, biblical, OT terms and thereby justify them.
The means (cannibalism) vs the end (survival)
The masses (cannon fodder) vs the individual (dinner)
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:42 pm

Lady Jill wrote:Amagine making up that whole story about the Mohican! Mohicans are native American indians. so I see where it came out of his amagination. Then again, his trek back from the White Gardens may have left his mind dangling in shreds, so it WAS easy to make up the Mohican.

Certain clans of the Mohawks believed eating their captives as a sacrificial offering to the god of war would make them invincible in battle. I think this was a very deliberate invention for Samarin.

Lady Jill wrote:My question here is there a God of peace?

I think Samarin saw himself as a god of war.

Samarin, like Matula and Balashov had delusions of a paradise on earth in which the end justified the means. If Matula saw himself as a king, Balashov as a prophet, Samarin saw himself as a messiah. Samarin put himself above the laws of a society he set about destroying. The reference to Abraham, to me, suggests that Samarin believed that his captive understood his sacrifice to be a declaration of faith in Samarin’s path toward a greater good.

As for cannon fodder... I think the nature of modern war has sent boys—not yet men—to places they would not have been able to place on map, to fight for things quite different from what they imagined. That is unconscionable, but the willing sacrifice of one under false pretenses is no better. It is still senseless death.
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:25 pm

Dangerous territory indeed, Parlez! :yikes:

Charlene, I agree that she was hearing and seeing in Samarin what she wanted. She allowed herself to be duped by him.

Lady Jill, I saw him as a psychopath also. If he had no qualms about cannibalism for his cause, then I suppose telling tall tales was no biggie. I remember when I was reading the passage of the story where he and Balashov are walking through the tunnel, I got chills. I felt then that he was a psychopath. I expected him to murder Balashov right then and there.


dharma_bum wrote:I think Samarin saw himself as a god of war.


Yes, Samarin, the destroyer!

dharma_bum wrote:Samarin, like Matula and Balashov had delusions of a paradise on earth in which the end justified the means. If Matula saw himself as a king, Balashov as a prophet, Samarin saw himself as a messiah. Samarin put himself above the laws of a society he set about destroying. The reference to Abraham, to me, suggests that Samarin believed that his captive understood his sacrifice to be a declaration of faith in Samarin’s path toward a greater good.


It could very well be that the young man who accompanied Samarin knew what he was getting into and was able to go along with it for the greater cause. I just can’t relate to it.

Maybe I'm taking the Bible too literally, but it also bothers me that I never found any passages that indicated that Isaac trusted, believed and loved his father to the last. So that little argument of Sam's has been bugging me.
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Unread postby Depputante » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:26 pm

Parlez wrote: For Sam to make the analogy to Isaac and Abraham might show his desire (need) to frame his actions in grand, biblical, OT terms and thereby justify them.
The means (cannibalism) vs the end (survival)
The masses (cannon fodder) vs the individual (dinner)


Don't know nuthing about Isaas and Abrahams, except that people like to name their kids those names.

However, getting back to the mod's quotes...the first part REALLY reminds me of the article in Feb.12, 2007 People Magazine (The one with Johnny playing the Guitar at Whitikin concert on p.14, and Angelina's Loss on the front cover) about "Why victims don't Flee" in the Hornbeck Kidnapping that was discovered a couple weeks ago." The article isn't up on the net yet, but here's a link to the story http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20008918,00.html

I'll add more re- the article when I have time.

And on the same page he goes on to say:

“I say this not out of any disrespect for your late husband, but I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘cannon fodder’. I believe it’s worse to feed hundreds of thousands of men you don’t know to the guns than to feed one man you know to yourself.”

Do you agree or disagree?

I agree that it's a very humanitarian, logical statement that's worth pondering. It's just as powerful as Shantaram's "Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons." sentence. Powerful stuff.
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Unread postby Parlez » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:56 pm

Interesting ~ thanks for the link, Deppunate! There's something that seems to happen to people deep in their psyches when they feel they really have no choices and relinquish control over their lives to someone else. Maybe a kind of love ensues? I think of Patty (Tanya) Hearst too in that regard.

I'm glad you said that about the OT story, Liz, about Isaac's attitude vis-a-vis his father and the whole sacrifice thing...I was wondering about that and if it was true. Sounds like Sam was once again making it up as he went along, making his victim see him in the best possible light. Afterall, he'd been so gooood to him, fattening him up and all.
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Re: TPAOL Question #10 - Abraham & Isaac

Unread postby Red Shoes » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:42 pm

I'm really not sure about the first quote. It seems a little as if perhaps he's trying to guage how much Anna trusts him. He mention's "Abraham's son" and then "trust" which to me is some foreshadowing of what he does with Alyosha the next morning - taking the boy who trusts him to use for his own cause.

Maybe?

I realy don't like his Abraham/Isaac analogy. Yes, you can see the vague similarities but, I don't know, it just seems a bit wrong. Sacrifcing your own son shows a great deal more dedication than just being willing to kill a fellow traveller.


The 2nd quote.... I think Samarin wants to point out that his cause, and even he himself, is better and more noble than all the forces of government that currently rule the nations. He thinks that because his cause is more worthy than any other (or in his story "the mohican's need to survive"), then his actions are acceptable.

As for whether I agree or not... I don't think I do. I don't *disagree* as such but somehow I just don't think that killing thousands of people is any worse than killing one person. Either way it's evil.
I agree that *eating* a person, IF they are already dead, is less evil than killing thousands of people. I can empathise with a situation of having no food other than a dead companion (I can't believe I'm saying this! What a discussion!) but I cannot empathise with sending thousands of men to die for your own argument.

And that is one of the things that I find interesting—that he is speaking from the point of view of his sacrifical lamb, his victim. He is making up the story. But the story is the same—just the names have been changed. I’m just curious how he can talk about the comfort his victim drew from him. Where is that coming from?


Yes Liz I find that really interesting too. Samarin has an extraordinary ability to percieve the points of view and thoughts of the people around him. I think he would have genuinely seen the trust and reliance in his victim and kown that he was both loving and suspicious toward him.

But there is probably also some kind of projection going on - Samarin imagined in his weird head, that it would be better for his victim to die at his "loving" hands than to waste away, unloved, in the cold wilderness. So he justifies his actions to himself by pretending the victim is actually thining that (and who knows - maybe he was - Samarin was certainly a charismatic personality and I can imagine someone preferring to die close to him rather than all alone).

But what comes up for me with this passage is Samarin's 'undefined' personality, as Matula called it...his ability to 'be' both sides of the story...or to be any side of any story he wants to tell. That's brilliant acting!!


Yes Parlez I agree. He sure can act... he can do just about anything in pursuit of his cause!
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:44 pm

I think Samarin was trying to justify his actions not only to Anna but to himself as well.


I'd have to disagree with Samarin on this. I agree with what d_b wrote.
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As for cannon fodder... I think the nature of modern war has sent boys—not yet men—to places they would not have been able to place on map, to fight for things quite different from what they imagined. That is unconscionable, but the willing sacrifice of one under false pretenses is no better. It is still senseless death.
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Unread postby Theresa » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:26 pm

Liz wrote:
dharma_bum wrote:Samarin, like Matula and Balashov had delusions of a paradise on earth in which the end justified the means. If Matula saw himself as a king, Balashov as a prophet, Samarin saw himself as a messiah. Samarin put himself above the laws of a society he set about destroying. The reference to Abraham, to me, suggests that Samarin believed that his captive understood his sacrifice to be a declaration of faith in Samarin’s path toward a greater good.


It could very well be that the young man who accompanied Samarin knew what he was getting into and was able to go along with it for the greater cause. I just can’t relate to it.

Maybe I'm taking the Bible too literally, but it also bothers me that I never found any passages that indicated that Isaac trusted, believed and loved his father to the last. So that little argument of Sam's has been bugging me.

Me too, Liz -- Samarin twisted the story to fit his needs, much like he twisted everything else.

I'm sure that Isaac loved and trusted his father, but Samarin conveniently left out the part of the story where Isaac didn't know that he was the sacrifice. On the way up the mountain, Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb for the sacrifice was. And Abraham said God would provide it. So Isaac was trusting that God would provide a lamb, but he was unaware that he was the intended sacrifice. And if he was to be a willing sacrifice, why did Abraham have to bind him before putting him on the altar?

Knowing Samarin's penchant for distorting the truth, it's possible that the man he took with him on the journey to the White Gardens and back may not have known that he was brought along to be food. Samarin could have very well convinced him that he was to play a part in the revolutionary movement. (And I don't mean as dinner.)

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Unread postby Liz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:39 pm

Red Shoes wrote:I'm really not sure about the first quote. It seems a little as if perhaps he's trying to guage how much Anna trusts him. He mention's "Abraham's son" and then "trust" which to me is some foreshadowing of what he does with Alyosha the next morning - taking the boy who trusts him to use for his own cause.

Maybe?


I would say so, Red Shoes. Good catch. :-O Alyosha was trusting, and so was his mother—because Samarin set the stage for it the prior evening with his Abraham and Isaac analogy.

Red Shoes wrote:I agree that *eating* a person, IF they are already dead, is less evil than killing thousands of people. I can empathise with a situation of having no food other than a dead companion (I can't believe I'm saying this! What a discussion!) but I cannot empathise with sending thousands of men to die for your own argument.


I couldn’t believe I was typing that earlier today, either. But there is a difference between outright pre-meditated murder for food and using what is already dead.

theresa wrote: Knowing Samarin's penchant for distorting the truth, it's possible that the man he took with him on the journey to the White Gardens and back may not have known that he was brought along to be food. Samarin could have very well convinced him that he was to play a part in the revolutionary movement. (And I don't mean as dinner.)[/color]


Well this is possible, too, Theresa. I was assuming when I asked the question that Samarin was telling something that was true when he said that his captor was willing to be dinner. Afterall, we cannot trust anything Samarin says.


And Depputante and Parlez….. I thought of Patty Hearst and those two boys today also. I do think it is the same type of phenomena as the relationship that can exist between a kidnapper and his victim. I just can’t relate to it. :perplexed:
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Unread postby Parlez » Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:48 am

First of all, I think you're onto something, Red Shoes. Samarin was too clever to not know how his words would affect his listeners. So the Bible story, which is about the rewards of being trusting, was sure to plant seeds of trust in Anna's heart. Sam was probably already hatching the plan with Aloysha and the train at that point, the :censored:

On the topic of eating people, I am amazed by the whole concept of deliberately taking another human being along on a journey with the intention of eating him! It apparently was common enough in Russia to give it its own term: lyudoyedstvo. I can't imagine that the victim was aware of his role in the scheme, no matter how altrusitic or stupid he might be. Who would willingly sign up for that?? No, I think the healthy human meatball was duped from the start, and one can only guess at the cunning repartee of the consumer as he kept his prey in the dark. In fact, the two would probably start out on their journey united in their quest for survival, in a spirit of mutual assistance and companionship. Clearly, for the cannibal, having a talking, thinking companion along would be much more better than taking, say, a dumb ox. A non-human creature would require tending and tethering and would provide absolutely no conversation, let alone any critical thinking skills. So the cannibal gets the best of both worlds in the end.
Forgive me for saying this but, IMO, there's an undeniable logic to this, as grisly and unspeakably awful as it is. :notworthy:
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