From The Sandcastle, how can a subject be developed that displays Demoyte and Bledyard as representational of polar outlooks on being in the world?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Murdoch enjoys the idea of featuring individuals as part of a larger philosophical dialogue.  Characters occupy philosophical outlooks, and their characterizations help to illuminate ways of being in the world.  Demoyte represents one such outlook.  He embraces a freedom- based philosophical approach.  As Bill Mor struggles to determine what path to take, Demoyte's polar outlook is one that seeks to distance the individual from constraints on their agency and autonomy.  For example, Demoyte does not automatically sanction the institution of marriage.  In a discussion with Nan and Bill, Demoyte makes his outlook on the issue of constraint and socially sanctioned notions of convention quite clear:  "Marriage is organized selfishness with the blessing of society.  How hardly shall a married person enter the Kingdom of Heaven!"  Demoyte believes in individual action and freedom.  When he has enough of Nan and Bill, he is direct in his repudiation:  "You two may have to put up with each other, but I am not bout to put up with either of you."  Demoyte articulates a a polar outlook on being in the world that does not accept limitations of one's freedom.  It is for this reason that Demoyte does not voice objection to Bill being with Rain, as it is an act of freedom and individual choice, elements essential to his philosophical approach to being in the world.

Bledyard articulates a polar outlook to this condition.  Bledyard makes the argument that individuals cannot simply act out of happiness or freedom without considering implications and consequences.  When confronted with the potential justification of one's actions on the grounds of "Happiness," Bledyard's outlook is evident:

‘Happiness?’ said Bledyard, making a face of non-comprehension. ‘What has happiness got to do with it? Do you imagine that you, or anyone, has some sort of right to happiness? That idea is a poor guide.’

This same element is displayed when Bledyard sends Rain Carter away.  What Bill sees as "perfectly idiotic interference" is what Bledyard views as ethical and moral responsibility.  When Bill insists that Bledyard as the need to mind his own business, Bledyard suggests that Bill "reflect carefully before [you] proceed further."  Bledyard's philosophical approach is one where individuals cannot act without considering, or reflecting, about the potential implications of their actions.  Bill is poised between both polar opposite outlooks that Demoyte and Bledyard embrace.

In developing a subject on both polar outlooks, I think that clearly establishing how each views the individual's place in the world is a good starting point.  From this, exploring how each one views freedom and responsibility can enhance analysis of the subject.  Both represent polar outlooks that Bill, and the reader, must wrestle as they attempt to articulate who we are and what we can and cannot do.

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