Emil Blog Response

What piece of wisdom does Morley end up taking away from her experience(s) with Emil?

In Stuart McLean’s “Emil,” Morley comes to understand that people have a complex understanding of the world based on their beliefs and values, and actions down by those values affect the beliefs, values, and lives of the people around them.

For those of you who don’t know the story, the main character, Morley, meets a kind homeless man named Emil who refuses money or food. Morley wants to help him and does whatever she can to follow her values as life in the community they live in goes on.

The values that Morley’s portrays throughout the story are:

  • Helping those who deserve help (kindhearted, in an economic situation, etc.)
  • Show compassion and understanding for people in difficult situations
  • A want to help Emil no matter what (stubbornness and determination)
  • Returning debt/Remembering the little details

These values are on display whenever she interacts with Emil. For example, her stubborn behaviour and compassion is on display “When she tried to give Emil food, he wouldn’t take it. The first time, he said “I can’t take your sandwich.” Morley said, “Well, I’m not hungry.” And she put the sandwich she had bought for him on top of the garbage can on the corner. When she came back an hour later, it was gone” (112). She buys Emil food but his own values refrains him from accepting it until Morley shows that she’s not going to take no for an answer and leaves the sandwich for him.

Emil also has important values and beliefs in this story:

  • He doesn’t like accepting things (money, food, etc) from others, always saying things like “That’s too much” and “I don’t need it. (…) I have enough. I have enough” (111).
  • He wants to pay back those that have helped him or talked with him like Morley
  • Returning debt/Remembering the little details

Notice how Emil and Morley have the same value; returning debt and helping others. Putting the needs of others above their own. Now what happens when two people with that value meet? They push each other to better their own lifes and acknowledge the other person’s values, knowing they will break through those values gently to help them.

The biggest example of the lesson ‘people have a complex understanding of the world based on their beliefs and values, and actions down by those values affect the beliefs, values, and lives of the people around them’ is when Emil wins the lottery and uses the money to repay everyone who’s helped him. Emil’s values push Morley to exhibit the same values for Emil; when he gives her five hundred dollars, she accepts, understanding his beliefs and knowing “It would have been patronizing not to take it,” (…) “It would have been an insult.” (…) “I had to take it” (119). Her understanding of the world has grown into the perspective lens of the values of others, and she knows how to uphold Emil’s values while still staying true to her own: she’s “going to give it back to him,” (…) “bit by bit” (119).

And she does; little by little, bit by bit, she makes choices based on her values and beliefs that positively impact Emil and his life in their community.

“Because Morley still had four hundred and twenty-five dollars that belonged to him. (…) She had already given him fifty dollars in cash. Spent twenty on sandwiches and coffee, which she left on the garbage can on the corner. And she bought some feverfew – a plant that looks like a daisy – and give it to him to plant in his box. (…) And on the last weekend in September Morley will spend another five dollars while she is grocery shopping. She’ll buy a box of grape hyacinth bulbs and she will plant them one night when Emil has left – thinking as she scapes at the hard dirt in Emil’s box that they will come in the spring and surprise him” (121).

In conclusion, we can still make decisions and based on our own values and beliefs that contradict the beliefs of people around us as long as we understand their values and know the consequences of our actions that will better the lives of others in a positive and respectful way.

Theory Wars: Lenses

The lens I chose to view George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope is the Social Power lens. I focused on the actions of the Galactic Empire, Imperial Forces, the Rebellion, and how the hierarchy chart and power flow affected smugglers and workers and how droids fit in to the chart.I think it is important for a better understanding of the film because the main conflict and plot is caused by a struggle for controlling and maintaining power, and all the characters in the film are affected by the power balance, economic factors, and privilege, whether directly or indirectly. Characters such as the Imperial forces hold a lot of power, so the way the act in the film is affected by what the power is being used for. For example, you have the peaceful yet controlling Stormtroopers of the spaceport town Mos Eisley who keep the balance through vehicle checks and patrols. Obi-wan Kenobi refers to the town as “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”, so the use of Stormtroopers actually keeps the lower class and smugglers in line in a moderate/less evil and controlled way. However, in contrast, you have the Galactic Empire misusing its power with the Death Star, blowing up the planet Alderaan to punish Princess Leia for withholding information. Darth Vader also uses his status and connection with the Force, a power outside the social hierarchy chart, to climb up the ranks through violence and strategic aggression. For example, when a member of the Imperial Senate criticizes him, Darth Vader uses the Force to choke him into submission and exerts dominance.

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The Galactic Empire is seen as ‘evil’ and corrupted by power and control by the majority of the characters of the film. From rebels to regular citizens avoiding outright criticizing government for fear of provoking anger, it seems that the Galactic Empire has the universe under complete control and destroys anything that isn’t under its reign. But is that all there is to their story? In Star Wars: A New Hope we’re dropped right into the action of the stolen Death Star plans and shown the might of the evil Imperial Forces fighting the heroic rebels so we automatically assume the Galactic Empire is completely evil. While prequels and sequels might explain what the Empire has done to provoke the Rebellion, we never get a proper explanation in A New Hope other than that the Empire has expanded control over multiple galaxies and that they built a weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star. It’s clear that they hold the highest amount of social power, but it’s not clear how they got it. From the point of view of the Galactic Empire at the start of the film, it was the rebels that attacked them first, stealing plans for the Death Star. The attack on the rebel fleet can be seen as a self-defence or provoked attack. In fact, the retrieval of the plans and thus any actions caused by it (attacking the Jawa traders, killing Luke’s family, capturing and torturing the traitor Princess Leia, the threat of blowing up Alderaan, and any other small actions) were all justified by the attack of the rebels and were to be expected as consequences of the hunt for the plans. Actually blowing up Alderaan as a show of power was the first and only unprovoked attack of the Galactic Empire in A New Hope, as the attack on the rebel base was an attack against the threat of the rebels and technically part of the retrieval of the plans, as the plans were on the rebel base.
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Based on evidence from the film, class discussion, and personal opinion and observation, I created a hierarchy chart for Star Wars: A New Hope.

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As you can see, there are 6 main groups in the chart; Galactic Empire, Nobles, the Rebellion, Middle Class, Lower Class/Criminals, and Slaves/Domesticated Transport Creatures/Aliens. The Galactic Empire and Nobles makes most of their money and power through the middle class/workforce, and the lower class gains most of its money through thievery and smuggling trades to higher classes and risky businesses (ie. the alliance between Jabba the Hutt and the Galactic Empire, the Jawa droid traders, smuggling to the middle class and rebellion). The Rebellion gains power from support from the middle class and a connection to the Galactic Republic and Princess Leia. I made a chart symbolizing the different relationships of the different classes.

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As demonstrated in the hierarchy chart, droids have a very strange role in the social of Star Wars. Depending on the type of droid, they can slot in to part of the Imperial force army, the Rebellion, middle class/workforce, lower class, or as slaves/property. C3PO and RT-D2 are prime examples of droids as part of the Rebellion, with emotions and feelings, taking an active role in battles, and being trusted with a highly important mission, defending the Death Star plans. However, on the flip side of this, droids are part of the lowest class of slaves & domesticated creatures. Jawa trader droids is an example of how droids are seen as merely programs, and can be sold and bought as property. They aren’t seen as threats by the Galactic Empire, and they are not allowed in ‘The Cantina’. Droids can also be part of the middle class workforce or as part of the lower class, as they can be seen milling around towns without a master and the Death Star with orders.

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In conclusion, based on the social power lens, I think that this film might be about the power struggle between two extremes: the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion, how forces outside of the two powers affect battle and control, and how each piece of the hierarchy chart affect the others in a constant struggle to rise through the ranks and gain more power. Whether that be the smugglers of the lower class wanting more money through illegal means, droids switching between different pieces of the ranks, or the economic support the middle class gives to the Galactic Empire, Rebellion, and nobles, the struggle for power and control and the opportunities power shifts can give lower ranks changes the rules of the universe and causes conflicts between hierarchy levels.