What must have influenced song Sam to release his prisoner in "Cranes"?

The power of friendship influenced Songsam to release his prisoner in "Cranes," as his prisoner is a former friend of his.

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"Cranes " begins with Songsam volunteering to escort a prisoner to the next location. He volunteers for this because he recognizes the prisoner. The prisoner is Tokchae, and readers will find out that Songsam and Tokchae used to be childhood friends. The relationship ended when each man was forced...

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"Cranes" begins with Songsam volunteering to escort a prisoner to the next location. He volunteers for this because he recognizes the prisoner. The prisoner is Tokchae, and readers will find out that Songsam and Tokchae used to be childhood friends. The relationship ended when each man was forced to pick a side in the Korean conflict.

As Songsam escorts Tokchae, it becomes clear that Songsam is angry at his former friend for staying behind and supporting the other side of the conflict. Tokchae will eventually explain why he chose to stay behind, and Songsam can't fault his former friend for choosing to stay behind to help his family. There is a bit of guilt there, as Songsam left his entire family in order to go into hiding.

As the story unfolds, readers are given a couple of flashbacks into the former friendship. Songsam and Tokchae were best friends who played together and got into trouble together. At the story's conclusion, Songsam offers Tokchae his freedom, and readers aren't given an explicit reason as for why Songsam does this; however, most readers lean toward thinking that it is the bond of friendship that influences Songsam's decision. Songsam understands that they are on opposite sides of an ideological conflict, but he also understands that friendship is more powerful and important than a political standpoint. Songsam decides to support his friend over supporting his side.

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