King Rat

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

For a quick overview of the book"¦The time was World War II. The place was a brutal prison camp deep in Japanese-occupied territory. Here, within the seething mass of humanity, one man, an American corporal, seeks dominance over both captives and captors alike. His weapons were human courage, unblinking understanding of human weaknesses, and total willingness to exploit every opportunity to enlarge his power and corrupt or destroy anyone who stands in his path.

As I read through the story of King Rat I read about a man, in which other countries get their stereotypes of Americans from. In other countries around the world there are times in which a lot of people perceive us in a bad way. We are often judged for being brash, cocky, controlling, and even selfish among other things. In a world that is based solely on survival, "The King" uses these adjectives to help achieve the type of life he has on the campus.

In this book, you also tend to read about the human spirit through other characters besides King Rat. Through these characters, envy comes into play from other characters- Most notably Lieutenant Grey in the early going. Lt. Grey envies what The King has, and will do anything to cheat The King out of his earnings. The human spirit relates to this, because in a capitalistic world, competition exists. Through this competition, somebody has to win. At the end, the losing party in a majority of these cases is left with some kind of feeling along the lines of a failed feeling followed by a bitter type emotion.

On the flip side, the setting of this book is in a place in which people have to fight for survival. The King used exploitation throughout the book to get what he wanted or needed. He had the unique ability to use his knowledge of people, and turn it against them. In utilizing their breaking points and by studying their weaknesses, The King possibly became the most powerful on the campus. In the process of doing this, he made his way to the top without remorse. A quote in the book defines this: "That's what makes the world go round. There are the elite, and the rest. I'm the elite. I'm going to stay that way." In my opinion, The King's attitude is what made him the man he was. He knew he couldn't afford not to consistently be on top of his game. To be on top of his game, The King couldn't afford to have much, if any, remorse, sorrow, or guilty feelings for anybody. If he felt any of these, other people would realize that these feelings were HIS weaknesses. Once his weaknesses showed, I think he felt he would lose his edge on everyone else.

"True there are degrees of honor - but one man can have only one code. Do what you like. It's your choice. Some things a man must decide for himself. Sometimes you have to adapt to circumstances. But for the love of God guard yourself and your conscience - no one else will - and know that a bad decision at the right time can destroy you far more surely than any bullet!" When I talk about The King's edge, I talk about the way he used his survival instincts and they way he carried his business out. Everybody on the campus knew who The King was, and where he seemed to be. The other soldiers who weren't above him regarded him as somewhat of an actual king. A passage from the book portrays this: "And soon you would enjoy dreaming more than the waking, and if you were careless you would dream while awake, and the days would run into nights and the night into day. Then there was only death. Smooth. Gentle. It was easy to die. Agony to live. Except for the King. He had no agony." This quote is one of my favorites from the book, because it defines his power or his influence. The reader plainly sees what somebody feels not only about The King, but also about his essence.

Through this book, I learned a lot about what life is all about. I realized that sometimes you have to go against your morals, no matter how high they are, just to be in a position to keep them and yourself alive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read it. Thank you!