Moral dilemma short story

I didn’t invent this story, I heard it from a friend. It was about a year ago, so I might be slightly off in my interpretation.

The story

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a guy who loved each other (ooh, cheesy story). She lived by the river with her mother. The girl and the guy wanted to move out, and they decided to meet next morning at the other side of the river. It was agreed that if the girl isn’t there, it’s a sign that she doesn’t truely love the guy — he would leave forever, never to return.

On the evening before leaving, the girl went to the ferryman, the only person who could get her accross the river. The ferryman said he would take her to the other side of the river only if she slept with him. Dispirited, the girl returned home to her mother and asked her for advice. Her mother showed understanding but didn’t provide advice.

The girl decided to take the deal and slept with the ferryman. Next morning, she met her lover at the other side of the river. When her lover learned that she slept with the ferryman to get to the other side of the river, he decided to break up with her. The girl and the guy had a friend, who heard the story and saw the confrontation. The friend then slapped the guy for breaking up with the girl.

Moral analysis

We have five characters: girl, guy, mother, ferryman, friend. Your task is to rate the morality of their behavior. Please don’t rate according to emotionally tinted words, which I tried to avoid.

Feel free to use concrete numbers or fuzzy words, as you like. Feel free to explain your opinion.

If you don’t want to rate their behavior, you can cheat and just sort the characters from good to bad.

12 thoughts on “Moral dilemma short story

  1. Girl: 10, Guy: 4, Mother: 8, Ferryman: 1, Friend, 8.

    Note: if the girl told her boyfriend about the ferryman, her grade should go down. It is also possible that she needed to tell him because she felt raped or very sad, if so the guy’s grade should be even lower.

    My opinion obviously is that the girl did what she had to do given her goal (without it being something harmful to others). The ferry man is the bad guy in the story and the boyfriend is the stupid one.

  2. The only “bad” character is the friend. Everybody else has right to do what they do.
    Girl – used the only way to be with her lover (she didn’t harm anybody)
    Guy – just made one (stupid) condition to let their relationship continue, without intent of manipulatate her
    Mother – everybody has right to say “I don’t know”
    Ferryman – just made an offer, he could let her be
    Guy – made his subjective judgement and punish somebody by force (it is wrong)

  3. It seems that the guy didn’t really love her :)
    Other characters acted just normally. It’s hard to point out single “bad” character. The ferryman just made his offer, but the question is how much he knew about the situation.

  4. Wait:

    Ferryman takes girl across river, she pays by sleeping with Ferryman, right?

    So how did Guy get across the river? And why did they have to meet on the other side, while it was much easier to meet up at the ferry and cross that river together?

    I think the moral of the story is about being inconsiderate, and plucking bitter fruit for being so.

  5. I think that the whole crossingriver idea was her, because she knew the ferryman is a pig, but she felt something exciting about cheating and like other girls she didn’t know what she realy want…

  6. I mostly share Santiago’s opinion. I might rank the guy as 3 or 2, even.

    Stewart, the story doesn’t necessarily make much sense ;)
    Let’s say the guy had to go accross the river few days before her and simply paid the ferryman in cash.

    In the end it’s the girl who’s worst off… and in my opinion she’s the one to least deserve it.

  7. Hi tasuki. The way I know the story is that they each live on the other side of the river and there comes a flood on the night before their meeting, destroying the only bridge connecting the opposing sides. There, if you wanted a reallistic scenario :-D

    By the way, I see the moral of the story in the fact, that no matter how many times this game is played, different people always sort the characters in all possible permutations (and always for good reasons!), meaning that world is not black and white. Which is good :-)

  8. Oooh, that’s a much better version indeed!

    And yes, I agree that the point of this exercise is that people can have different opinions.

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