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The theme of pride is central to many popular literature pieces. Pride can be considered as the elevated opinion of one’s self and/or actions. While a sense of pride can be a positive motivating force to achieve great accomplishments, it also can be an all consuming force which leads to ill outcomes. Two stories which reflect the divergent outcomes of pride are The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown and The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boule. In the first novel, pride leads to lofty achievements whereas in the second story, pride becomes all consuming and detrimental.
A very prideful group is found in the novel The Boys On The Boat by Daniel Brown. The freshman eight sweep boat is a group of young men who are proud of their blue collar background who work together and persevere through hardships to eventually win a Gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. The main character of this book is named Joe Rantz who is from rural Seattle and has lived without a family since age 10. The reader follows his journey of hardships as a youngster to achieve admission to the University of Washington where he joins the crew team. Joe and his teammates are passionate for this sport and are so successful, they eventually compete in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. What sets Joe and his comrades apart from other rowing teams is that come from a farming, blue collar family. They are proud of their backgrounds and also to represent the state of Washington in this predominantly Ivy league sport. Pride also drives them to beat their well trained Aryan opponents in the final race in the Olympics. Their pride of their humble beginnings ultimately fuels their ascension to a gold medal. In this instance, pride is beneficial. The young men succeed in taking great pride in their backgrounds, their work ethic, their college and the notion of what their country represents as they wore the USA emblazoned on their jersey. Lastly, the team is proud of their mentor Mr. Peacock. Almost every athlete aspires to be like Mr.Peacock and they respect his wisdom, knowledge, and experience. They thrive in his presence and row with him on their mind. Without pride, this boat would be nothing but country luberjacks.
In the novel, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, pride is also a theme which is pertinent. However in this story, pide becomes all consuming and detrimental to the main character. The book revolves around a POW camp during World War II. The reader is introduced to a proud officer named Colonel Nicholson. He and his men are forced to build a bridge for the “Grand Japanese Empire”. Initially, Nicholson feels too proud as an officer to partake in this laborious task.
However as the story progresses, he takes charge of this project and he ultimately wants to make the bridge the best it can be to prove that British engineering is far superior to his captors’ efforts..
By the end of the book, Nicholson actually enjoys the completion of his bridge and hopes that it will stand in his name for some time. His pride in his engineering gets the better of him as he wrestles between ruining his creation versus his patriotism as own side, the British, want to destroy the bridge. Nicholson actually rejects this idea and kills his own people when destroying the bridge. This whole book is a prime example of how too much pride can be all consuming and can be detrimental.. We can see how his personality and respect from others changes from the beginning in the earlier quote to the end.
In contrasting these two stories, the reader can realize that pride can be beneficial yet at other times destructive.
One needs to learn how to balance between a sense of pride which can motivate to great accomplishments while still maintaining humilty and a balance of self worth.
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