The Seventh Man Short Story Analysis

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Every day, many people worldwide are faced with moral dilemmas that frequently put an individual’s personal ethics under strain. It is not uncommon for one to make a decision that feels virtuous to them during the immense pressure placed upon them from outside forces, only to reflect back on the situation after it has occurred and will that they had reacted differently because it would change the outcome of such an event to something more desirable. Such a phenomenon is called survivor’s guilt, and it occurs more often than most people believe. Survivor guilt is invoked in a multitude of ways, ranging from warfare to natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. Therefore, narrator of the short story “The Seventh Man” by Haruki Murakami…show more content…
In “The Seventh Man,” the narrator felt culpable for K.’s death because he felt that he could have somehow intervened and saved his life, potentially avoiding the wave, but did not take the only chance he had. The seventh man felt responsible because he “…abandoned him there and saved only myself. It pained me all the more that K.’s parents failed to blame me and that everyone else was so careful not to say anything to me about what happened (Murakami 140).” For a considerable amount of time following the situation on the beach, the narrator mulled over the various ways he could have saved K. and determined that with the time they had the both of them could have escaped the wave’s path unharmed if he had gone one step out of his comfort zone and grabbed his friend and ran to safety. Realistically, however, a human being cannot possibly outrun a natural phenomenon such as typhoon wave given the speed at which they form and make landfall. So essentially, if the seventh man carried out his plan, it would have resulted in both of their deaths because “…it was too late. A wave like a huge snake with its head held high was racing towards the shore…it rose up behind K…the next instant, the wave had swallowed him (Murakami 138).” According to Nancy Sherman’s editorial “The Moral Logic of Survivor Guilt,” the feeling that the seventh man was experiencing is classified as subjective (irrational) guilt where someone feels responsible despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong (Sherman 154). The application of this term in the seventh man’s situation rings true because he could not have possibly been able to save K. even if he tried due to the fact that the wave that swept him away is something that cannot be controlled. Many people placed in similar circumstances where

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