Donald Hall’s Moral Riddle

“A husband and wife named Raoul and Marie lived in a house beside a river next to a forest. One afternoon Raoul told Marie that he had to travel to Paris overnight on business. As soon as he left, Marie paid the Ferryman one franc to row her across the river to the house of her lover Pierre. Marie and Pierre made lover all night. Just before dawn, Marie dressed to go home, to be sure that she arrived before Raoul returned. When she reached the Ferryman, she discovered that she had neglected to bring a second franc for her return journey. She asked the Ferryman to trust her; she would pay him back. He refused: A rule is a rule, he said.

“If she walked north by the river she could cross it on a bridge, but between the bridge and her house a Murderer lived in the forest and killed anybody who entered. So Marie returned to Pierre’s house to wake him and borrow a franc. She found the door locked; she banged on it; she shouted as loud as she could; she threw pebbles against Pierre’s bedroom windows. Pierre awoke hearing her but he was tired and did not want to get out of bed. “Women!” he thought. “Once you give in, they take advantage of you…” Pierre went back to sleep.

“Marie returned to the Ferryman: She would give him ten francs by midmorning. He refused to break the rules of his job; they told him cash only; he did what they told him…Marie returned to Pierre, with the same lack of result, as the sun started to rise.

“Desperate, she ran north along the riverbank, crossed the bridge and entered the Murderer’s forest…

“”Which of the characters in this story is morally most responsible for Marie’s death?””

  • The Ferryman
  • Marie
  • The Murderer
  • Pierre
  • Raoul

This is taken from the story “Argument and Persuasion” – first published in The Ideal Bakery – by Donald Hall

Enhanced by Zemanta
(Visited 77 times, 1 visits today)

Comments

  1. Tyler

    The Murderer, of course. How can you blame anyone but the man with the knife in his hand? All the other actions in the story brought no harm to Marie and were very logical actions from their separate point of views. However, no actions that came before the murder justified the murder, therefore the only person responsible for Marie’s death is the person that commited the deed.

  2. Tyler

    The Murderer, of course. How can you blame anyone but the man with the knife in his hand? All the other actions in the story brought no harm to Marie and were very logical actions from their separate point of views. However, no actions that came before the murder justified the murder, therefore the only person responsible for Marie’s death is the person that commited the deed.

  3. I agree, that it should be obvious. But you would be amazed how many people conclude someone else – Marie, even – when I once read this story aloud to some people. Whether or not they thought it was a trick question, some people answered other than the Murderer.

  4. I agree, that it should be obvious. But you would be amazed how many people conclude someone else – Marie, even – when I once read this story aloud to some people. Whether or not they thought it was a trick question, some people answered other than the Murderer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>