The problem of man’s moral choice in war

Perhaps, in many years people will return to the theme of the Great Patriotic War. But they can restore the events, only having studied the documents, memoirs. It will be later. And now those who bravely rose to defend our country in the summer of 1941 are still alive. Still fresh memories of the horrors of war in their hearts. Such a person can be called Vasil Bykov.

V. Bykov depicts war and man in war – “without touching, without boasting, without varnishing – what it is”. In his works there is no bombast, excessive solemnity.

The author writes about the war as an eyewitness, as a person who has experienced both bitterness of defeats, and the severity of losses and losses, and the joy of victory. He, by his own admission, is interested not in combat technology, but in the moral world of man, his behavior in the war in crisis, tragic, desperate situations. His works are united by one common idea – the idea of ​​choice. The choice between death, but the death of the hero, and a cowardly, miserable existence. The writer is interested in the cruelly – severe test that each of his heroes must undergo: will he be able to spare himself to fulfill his duty to the Motherland, his duties as a citizen and a patriot? The war was such a test of man for the strength of the ideological and moral.

On the example of Bykov’s story “Sotnikov” we will consider the difficult problem of heroic choice. Two main characters, two partisans… But how do they differ in their attitude?

The fisherman is an experienced partisan who has risked his life more than once. Sotnikov, who volunteered for the assignment partly because of his self-esteem. He did not want to tell the commander about this. The fisherman asked why he was silent, then, as the other two refused, to which Sotnikov replied: “That’s why he did not refuse that others refused.”
From the first lines of the story, it seems that both heroes will play a positive role until the very end. They are brave, ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the goal, from the very beginning they feel their rather kind relation to each other. But gradually the situation begins to change. Bykov slowly reveals the character of Rybak. The first signs of something alarming appear in the conversation scene with the village elder. The fisherman was about to shoot the old man, but when he found out that it was not his first thought, he was extinguished (“… he did not want to assimilate to someone.” He considered his intentions fair, but, having found someone similar to his own, perceived own already in a slightly different light “). This is the first stroke in the formation of the image of Fisherman.
At night, Rybak and Sotnikov come across the policemen. Behavior Fisher – the second touch. Bykov writes: “As always, in a moment of greatest danger, everyone took care of themselves, took their fate into their own hands.” As for Rybak,
he was rescued by his feet once a war. ” Sotnikov lags behind, gets under fire, and his partner runs, saving his skin. And only one thought makes Rybak come back: he thinks about what he will say to his comrades who stayed in the forest…

At night, the guerrillas reach the next village, where they are hiding a woman with children. But even here they are discovered by policemen. Once again Rybak thought: “… Suddenly he wanted Sotnikov to rise first, yet he was wounded and sick, he gave them both to the same cough, and he could be taken prisoner with a good reason.” And get out of the attic it makes only fear of death. The third bar is shaded.
The most vivid, informative episode is the scene of interrogation. And how does the behavior of the characters differ!

Sotnikov bravely suffers torture, but even a thought did not flash in his head about betraying his comrades. Sotnikov is not afraid of death or his tormentors. He not only tries to take on the guilt of others and thereby save them, it is important for him to die with dignity. His main... goal is to put his soul “for his friends”, not trying to buy himself an entreaty or betrayal of an unworthy life.

And Rybak? From the very beginning of the interrogation, he curses before the investigator, readily answers questions, although he tries to lie. The fisherman, who always before found a way out of any situation, tries to outwit the enemy, not understanding that, having embarked on such a path, he will inevitably come to betrayal, because his own salvation has already placed above the laws of honor, comradeship. Caught in a desperate situation, Rybak in the face of imminent death chickened out, preferring the bestial life of human death.
When Investigator Portnov suggests that he become a policeman, Rybak thinks about it. “Through minute confusion in himself, he suddenly felt the freedom, the spaciousness, even a slight breeze of fresh wind in the field.” He began to cherish the hope that he would manage to escape. In the basement, the characters meet again. The fisherman asks Sotnikov to confirm his testimony. A disgraceful thought crept into his head: “… If Sotnikov dies, then his chance, Rybak, will improve significantly, he will be able to say what he wants, there are no other witnesses here.” He understood all the inhumanity of his thoughts, but the fact that it would be better for him dwarfed all the “against”. The fisherman consoled himself with the fact that, if he turned around, he would pay for Sotnikov’s life and for his fears.

And then comes the day of execution… Together with the guerrillas, innocent people must go to the gallows: the woman who sheltered them, the village elder, the Jewish girl Basia. And then Sotnikov takes the only right decision for himself. On the steps of the gallows, he confesses that he is a partisan, that he wounded the policeman last night. The fisherman fully reveals his essence, making a desperate attempt to save his life. He agrees to become a policeman… But that’s not all. The fisherman crosses the last line, when he personally kills his comrade.
Final of the story. The fisherman decides to hang himself. His conscience torments him, which he could not drown out. Saving himself, he not only executes the former comrade – he lacks the determination even for the death of Judah: it is symbolic that he tries to hang himself in the restroom, even at some instant almost ready to throw his head down – but
does not dare. However, spiritually, the fisherman is already dead (“Although they were left alive, but in some respects also liquidated”), and suicide would not have saved him from the traitor’s stigma.

But even here Bykov shows us that repentance was not sincere: after deciding to die, Rybak can not part with such a valuable life for which he betrayed the most sacred – military friendship and his honor.
Vasil Bykov’s heroes teach us the lessons of honor, courage, humanity. A person must always make a choice – war makes this choice tragic. But the essence remains the same, it does not change, because Bykov’s favorite heroes follow only the call of their heart, act honestly and nobly. And only then can a person be called a “hero” in the best sense of the word.

“No man… can not be a means or an instrument for the benefit of another person, nor for the benefit of the whole class, nor, finally, for the so-called common good,” wrote Vladimir Soloviev. In war people become such a means. War is murder, and to kill means to violate one of the commandments of the Gospel – to kill immorally.

Therefore, the war raises another problem – to preserve human dignity. However, many people help to survive, to remain a strong spirit and believer in a worthy future precisely the idea – never to betray one’s own principles, to preserve humanity and morality in oneself. And if a person has perceived these laws as the goal of his life and has never violated them, he has never put his conscience in his pocket, then it will be easier for him to survive in the war. An example of such a person is the hero of the novel “Sashka” by Vyacheslav Kondratiev.


The problem of man’s moral choice in war