Can you provide a study guide for Diane Cook's short story "Bounty"?

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In her short story "Bounty," Diane Cook examines human nature, the effects of privilege on human behavior, and the different manners in which people respond to challenging situations. The story's narrator has plenty of resources and room to spare, but chooses not to help those who seek it. The narrator's first priority is self-preservation, while his neighbor is willing to share all he has with those in need. The narrator and neighbor have drastically different responses to the same circumstances.

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Diane Cook's short story "Bounty" examines the effects of privilege on human behavior, as well the different ways in which people respond to the same stressful conditions. The story is set in a dystopian future in which the world is flooded and few people survive. The nameless main character is...

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well-prepared, privileged, and relatively comfortable and safe inside his large home with more than enough food and supplies to sustain him.

Although he has space and food to spare, the narrator turns away everyone who seeks help and shelter, with the exception of one man named Gary, who does not ask for anything but whiskey. The narrator does not care for whiskey and has plenty of it, so he lets Gary stay at his house in exchange for protection from beggars and help with household chores.

While the main character hoards resources and refuses to help others, his neighbor approaches the troubling state of the world in a different manner. He helps as many people as he can, letting them into his home and sharing his food with them, even at his own expense. The narrator is disgusted by his neighbor and does not understand why he chooses to let people into his home. The neighbor disapproves of the narrator's selfishness:

As my neighbor wipes his tears, I shrug in commiseration. But he just shakes his head at me, like I'm the one who robbed him, I'm the water that tore those houses down.

While the neighbor does not hold the narrator responsible for the flood itself, he is not pleased with the selfish way the narrator chooses to handle the situation.

In the narrator's case, his privilege has negative effect on his behavior. He is selfish and possessive and even though he has more than enough, he is completely unwilling to share it with anyone but Gary. When the neighbor sends a letter asking for extra food and boarding for some of his lodgers, the narrator flatly refuses and does not understand why Gary wants to help. The narrator's sense of privilege is evident even in this new post-apocalyptic world. The narrator still tries to hang on to the last shreds of civility, such as being able to flush the toilet, even though most of the few people left in the world do not even have a toilet to flush. The narrator is offended when Gary says that they are "homeless." The main character thinks that Gary's statement is absurd:

'Homeless' is a term of destitution. We're not hanging out of windows, waving blankets; we're not trod on by pruned feet like my neighbor.

Even given the terrible and uncertain state of the world, the spoiled narrator still judges others and thinks himself better than them. Self-preservation is the narrator's primary concern. Privilege has a different effect on the neighbor. The neighbor believes everyone is in the crisis together and is willing to share whatever resources he has, even if it means sacrificing his own convenience and comfort. By contrasting the narrator's response to a worldwide catastrophe with his neighbor's response, Cook is demonstrating the differences in human reactions to difficult circumstances, as well as the different effects that privilege can have on human behavior.

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