Life's Decisions

Essay by sprngllcs4College, Undergraduate July 2005

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Literature often focuses upon the choices people make in important situations and the consequences that follow. Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" and Kawabata's "First Snow on Fuji" both present characters who must make life and death decisions. These choices will change their lives forever.

Most of the decisions we face on a daily basis are relatively insignificant. For example, we choose between oatmeal and shredded wheat for breakfast, or between black and grey socks when getting dressed. Occasionally, however, every individual must make choices that are of great importance and can potentially be life altering. These situations can be mind boggling, and the individual struggles to choose the best course of action. As we go through life, we learn through experience to think wisely rather than act impulsively when faced with decisions, since one wrong move can result in a lifetime of suffering.

In "First Snow on Fuji" by Kawabata, Utako and Jiro must live with the decision that they made years ago.

Giving up their child was not something this couple wanted to do; they were pressured a great deal by society, family, as well as circumstances. Nevertheless, it was a decision that they made, and so they suffer the consequences. Both Utako and Jiro spend a great deal of time and energy rethinking the past, and wondering what life might've been like if their child had lived. They are each plagued by guilt and emotional turmoil. When Utako says: "The clouds keep moving but the arrangement stays the same," she is metaphorically alluding to her inability to come to terms with the fact that she gave her child away.

Life is full of crossroads and people . are faced with the challenge of choosing which way to turn. Some choices are particularly difficult, especially in cases when our decisions may affect the rest of our lives. The stories "Hills Like White Elephants" and "First Snow on Fuji" strike a chord in so many readers since like the characters in these stories we've all had to make difficult choices.