Conformity In Callaghan's Short Story 'Two Fishermen'

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Man vs. Society

The short story "Two Fishermen" by Morley Callaghan depicts an important message about the relationship that conformity has with morality. Callaghan illustrates that the true nature of an individual 's being is only revealed when they are put under pressure. This message is portrayed through the characters Michael Foster, Billy Hilton, and K. Smith. In Michael Foster 's case, he is given a choice to stand up for and protect an innocent man with whom he had become acquaintances with. With reference to Billy Hilton, his choice to cast a blind eye to the law go against the very book that he swore an oath to. And K. Smith with his character being defined by choosing to accept a contract to execute an innocent man. When Michael
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Smith, a "mild, harmless little guy" (Callaghan 1); these descriptions of Smitty do not instill a sense of fear, authority and courage. Callaghan uses a sense of irony to describe the so-called "hangman" as one would expect the hangman to be a large, scary, and horrifying person. The initial picture of the hangman gives a feeling that this man is not self-confident as he is described to be "sitting down with his knees hunched up to his chin, a very small man" (Callaghan 1); these are opposite traits in which one might expect a hangman to be described as. Smitty also displays conformity as he takes the job as a "hangman" and agrees to execute Thomas Delaney, a man sentenced to death for killing of Mathew Rhinehart, the molester of his wife. He comments that he doesn 't "know anything about him" (Callaghan 2) which suggests that he has no moral feelings against who he is executing. Smitty is a harmless man that thinks of his job not as pleasure but as his duty. Smitty is quoted saying "Somebody 's got to do my job. There 's got to be a hangman" (Callaghan 2); he does not necessarily like his job, but he doesn 't dislike it either. He simply conforms with what he is and simply does what he has agreed to do. K. Smith just came to a small town to execute a man where the town was convinced that he was innocent. Even though Smitty had nothing to do with the crime, the townspeople end up blaming him for the
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