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Mercy Among The Children Essay

1148 words - 5 pages

Carin IsaMrs. SelvaggiENG 4U111 June 2012Universal Human Failings in Mercy Among the ChildrenFailure is a universal human imperfection, which one cannot control or escape. It is an occurrence that everyone will experience whether it is because one is trying to set a higher limit for him or herself or whether one has fallen from grace. To read about character's who experience failure similar to our own or in some cases tremendously different from our own we gain a sense of comfort or relief. Character's like Rudy Bellanger and Lyle Henderson in Mercy Among the Children display these imperfections and failures throughout their course in the novel. Things like fear, lust, vengeance and greed all play a role in the failures of these characters along with the theme of mercy which is what ultimately drives some characters to failure. In David Adams Richards' Mercy Among the Children various aspects of universal human failings can be analyzed in many characters using the theme of mercy, which is especially evident throughout novel.In Richards' Mercy Among the Children both Sydney and Lyle Henderson exhibit the idea of true human failure with respect to the theme of mercy. Sydney Henderson receives mercy from very few members of his town because of the terrible and otherwise conventional failures of his father before him. Sydney is often times portrayed enduring the wrath and cruelty brought on by men like Mathew Pit, Connie Devlin and Constable Morris who allow him no mercy and accuse him of treacherous acts and scheming plots. "I guess you have been let down by me - I am not very good at the world - in all my life I have not been" (Richards 137). Sydney's one failure, which may or may not be what leads him to his death, is the failure to abandon his moral principles. It can be argued that Sydney's righteousness is not necessarily a failure but a blessing because it affects the actions of his children Autumn and Lyle in very different ways. "My father did not understand what courts did. Not in that way. (I use his gullibility to explain his greatness)" (Richards 46). Sydney's failure to abandon his moral principles is a failure which is likely experienced universally by many. It is not wrong to keep these principles and live according to selfless teachings, but society often times becomes filled with disdain and contempt at people who live the way Sydney does. Lyle Henderson, on the other hand, is forced to watch his family humiliated and deeply tormented by members of his own community and this is what is at the root of his violent behavior and failure to be an influential figure to his siblings." 'How did you let this happen - where are your children?' I was sixteen years old, and I had done a disreputable thing that my father never would" (Richards 238). Lyle sometimes condemns his fathers saintly disposition, but at the same time he is constantly comparing his wrongdoings and failures to Sydney's apathy. "Each time I took ten dollars I cut myself a...

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