Personal Duty In Mark Twain's The Rattler

424 Words2 Pages
Through the use of attention to detail and person point of view, the author of “The Rattler” depicts that sometimes personal duty overrides personal moral values. In a personal moral conflict, the character portrays his moral value of respecting all living things. Using his point of view on killing the snake, he states, “I have never killed an animal I was not obliged to kill.” The character never intends to kill the snake and respects that life should be valued, a personal moral for the man. The author also elaborates in detail to show the man does not want to kill the snake- “...the sport in taking life is a satisfaction I can’t feel.” Through the man's conflict, the author intends to show the snake had no dangerous intentions explaining…show more content…
He goes on to say his “duty, plainly, was to kill the snake,” this being supported by his initial intentions to only kill an animal he was “obliged to kill.” In addition, using the point of view to provide intuition further instills the man’s justification of duty over personal values. When the man “reflected that there were children, dogs, horses at the ranch, as well as men and women lightly shod,” he feels a natural obligation to protect them, even if it went against his values. Towards the end, the man acknowledges if he had followed his moral value the outcome would’ve been significantly different, for both the man and the snake. Additionally, the man states he “did not cut off the rattles for a trophy,” expressing his guilt for killing the snake and depicting that the act of killing was more like a duty rather than a sport to him. From attention to detail to point of view, these qualities supplement the overall theme of balancing personal duty and moral values. In general, it is important to follow personal moral values, such as respecting and acknowledging the value of life. However, in this situation, when many innocent people are exposed to a potential threat, it is necessary to fulfill your duty to protect, even if it opposes your values, for the greater
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