Can You Handle the Truth?
- onSeptember 5, 2018
- Vol.41 Autumn 2018
- byJeong You-jeong
Growing up, I was taught that murder was wrong—that taking another person’s life was the most atrocious of all wrongs committed by human beings, which is why murderers received the severest punishment. And I believed it was an absolute moral law beyond a shadow of doubt.
I was fifteen years old when my belief was shaken. It was after reading Ken Kesey’s famous novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The protagonist’s friend becomes a vegetable after being lobotomized for rebelling against the practices of a psychiatric hospital, and to help him reclaim his dignity, the protagonist smothers him with a pillow. The shock of that scene was branded onto my mind. I realized that murder was not always an absolute evil, but could sometimes be salvation.
“Carol” explores this fine line. It is a story that questions the morality of truth. The Korean dictionary defines “truth” as a fact devoid of falsehood. Most of us have been taught since childhood to always, in whatever situation, pursue the truth. We’ve learned that truth is the noblest of values, that it is a “moral value.” But is it really?
Through the story, the author asks: what if truth is pursued to the extreme? Can people handle its weight? She poses the questions by putting a man to the test of truth.