Who emerges as a better human being, the lawyer or the banker?

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The banker threw a party, some fifteen years prior to the story's present, and one topic of discussion at this party was the death penalty. A young lawyer who had been present, a man of just twenty-five years, argued that both the death sentence and a life sentence in prison are equally immoral and inhumane, but he says that he would "certainly choose the second" were he given a choice between the two. So, the banker bets him a very large sum of money that he will not be able to endure in solitary confinement for five years, but the lawyer is so cocky that he believes he can stay for fifteen years! Now that the banker has lost so much of his money and will be ruined by having to pay the lawyer, he determines to kill the man so that he'll be able to keep his money and avoid financial ruin. However, once he breaks into the lawyer's room, he reads the lawyer's letter, and it describes how he has come to "despise" everything that human beings care about and how he plans to leave his prison five hours before the deadline, purposely forfeiting the money as a show of his disgust for humanity. This, alone, seems to prevent the banker from murdering him, and he returns to his own bed with a great "contempt for himself." Thus, the lawyer does seem to become a misanthrope, but he is not a murderer, and so he is the better person.

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