Throughout childhood, we are taught that ?honesty is the best policy? and that we should never keep secrets from others. As we grow older, however, we discover that telling a lie is sometimes easier than revealing the truth. We realize that certain information and matters must be kept secret for the safety or well-being of others. Generally, it is not wise to keep secrets or tell lies. However, there are some occasions and situations where it cannot be helped.
Some lies are told simply because the truth might just be too appalling to expose. There is an example of this in E. L. Doctorow?s The Writer in the Family: ?Thinking the shock might kill her, my aunts told her that he had moved to Arizona for his bronchitis?(5). In this case, the news of Jack?s death might have been such a shock to his mother that she could have died simply from hearing it, so rather than tell her the truth, Jonathan?s aunts conspired to hide Jack?s death through a series of letters.
These letters, written by Jonathan, notified Jack?s elderly mother that he had become a successful salesman and that he was in good health. It was a good cover-up at first, but this ongoing secret caused turmoil in Jonathan?s family. His mother exclaimed, ?How long does this go on??(8) Even Jonathan himself expressed to his aunt that what they were doing wasn?t very honest(8). He ends up writing a final letter to his grandmother, notifying her of Jack?s death and putting an end to the lies. From this illustration, we see that sometimes it is necessary to keep a secret from someone for the sake of their health, even if it results in family distress.
What would have happened, however, if Jack had revealed the truth to...