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Decisions And Consequences In Peace Like A River

953 words - 4 pages

Life presents many forks in the road in which people are forced to make a decision and then live with the consequences of those decisions. In Peace Like a River each character is presented with choices and their decisions are characterized by their level of faith and the resulting consequences. The reader is given the opportunity to recognize the contrasting results of decisions that are made from three different perspectives; making decisions without a foundation in faith as seen in Davey’s character, a lukewarm faith that frequently realizes Biblical truth as it relates to decisions hindsight, as seen in Reuben’s character, and the fantasy based faith of Swede that identifies with ...view middle of the document...

His most profound decisions are based on his loyalty and commitment to his family and he doesn’t exercise any Biblical discernment or consider the consequences of those decisions. After shooting two young men, his younger brother Reuben recognizes the heavy burden Davey will later bear for his decision, “"When did it come to Davy Land that exile is a country of shifting borders, hard to quit yet hard to endure, no matter your wide shoulders, no matter your toughened heart" (Enger, 2001, p. 50)? Ultimately the consequences of his decisions have led him to a place of permanent exile from his family and freedom, and his desire to survive for the chance meeting with his brother becomes the remaining force in his life. While Davey clearly demonstrates compassion and empathy for Reuben, Swede, and Sara, his decisions ultimately bring harm to his entire family with the death of his father and the absence of their brother who is force to remain a fugitive. As one critic puts it, “His sole function seems to be to demonstrate the principles of fate” (Dieckmann, 2001).
Swede is the youngest and only girl of the family.

Reuben, the younger son and middle child of Jeremiah Land is a frail asthmatic kid that struggles balancing a conviction to what’s right and wrong with a loyalty to his family. Though as one critic notes, “The absolute lines of right and wrong are never compromised, but there is always sympathy for the multifaceted characters” (Crosby, 2002, p. 63). Throughout the story his convictions are often hindsight when he realizes that his initial actions were born of pride or emotion and then follow with an overwhelming feeling of guilt or embarrassment. The climactic revelation of his lack of integrity when making decisions comes when it is revealed that he knows where Davey is...

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