According to the banker's remarks about the death penalty in "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov, what does he value most in life?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov, the banker values the quality of life over the quantity of life. He feels that capital punishment is "more moral" than life imprisonment because with capital punishment one is killed immediately. Life imprisonment causes death as well eventually, but it is long and drawn out over many years of suffering. The banker feels that life is not worth living if it cannot be enjoyed. The others at the dinner party disagree with him, most saying that both capital punishment and life imprisonment are immoral.

"'They're both equally immoral," remarked one of the guests, 'because their purpose is the same, to take away life. The state is not all powerful.  It has not right to take away that which it cannot give back if it should so desire.'" (Chekhov 1)

Though the lawyer agrees that both are immoral, he says he would choose life imprisonment over capital punishment, and this is when the banker makes the bet with him. The banker does not think the lawyer can last even five years.