This discussion topic is based on exercise 1.3 I. Read the story on those pages. (For your convenience, this story is reproduced below as well.) Then, based on your reading of the story, answer the questions in section A of the exercise. Make sure that you provide a 1-3 sentence description of each of the characters in the story. In addition, make sure that you give reasons for choosing to sacrifice the individual you will list in response to question #1.
After submitting your post by 11:00 p.m. on the 19th, read some of the other students’ posts. Choose at least two of them and respond to them. Did you arrive at the same conclusions as they did? Did you use the same reasons to justify your answers? What assumptions about each of the characters in the story did you and other students make? Are these assumptions good ones? Why or why not?
The purpose of this exercise is not to arrive at the same answers as everyone else. There may well be a consensus that forms in the course of our discussion, but that is not nearly as important as our reflections on how we use critical thinking to arrive at these answers. Can we come up with good reasons to support our beliefs? If we make unwarranted assumptions about the information in our reading, are we really thinking critically? How might we improve our reasoning? How does our ability to reason well affect our ability to understand what we read? These are the sorts of questions that will be lurking in the background.
Grading & Due Dates: To receive full credit students must answer the topic question/s as well as ask other students questions about their post. Students must have their initial posts to the discussion topic posted by the 19th (by 11:00 p.m. and their question asked by the 20th (by 11:00 p.m.) to receive full credit. In addition, you are responsible for responding to any comments on your posts by the end of the discussion at 11:00 p.m. on the 21st.
Note that these guidelines apply to all discussions in the class this semester.
- Read this story and answer the questions that follow.
When it happened, a disturbing mix of feelings bubbled inside you. It sickened
you to watch the boat slip beneath the waves and disappear forever; so much
work had gone into maintaining it and keeping it afl oat, but at least everyone
was safe in the tiny lifeboat you’d had just enough time to launch. You secretly
congratulated yourself for having had the foresight to stock the lifeboat with a
few emergency items, such as a small amount of food and water, but you knew
that a boat built to hold three, maybe four people wasn’t going to survive too
long with such an overload of passengers.
You looked around at your companions: the brilliant Dr. Brown, whose
cleverness and quick wit had impressed you on many occasions; Marie Brown,
pregnant and clearly exhausted from the climb into the lifeboat; Lieutenant
Ashley Morganstern, a twenty-year veteran who’d seen the most brutal sorts of
combat; the lieutenant’s secretary and traveling companion, whose shirt you
noticed for the fi rst time bore the monogram LB, but whom everyone called,
simply, “Letty”; and Eagle-Eye Sam, the trusted friend who’d been at your side
for many years as you sailed the oceans in your precious, now-vanished boat
and whose nickname came from his ability to spot the smallest objects seemingly
miles away at sea.
Seeing the fear on your passengers’ faces, you tried to comfort them: “Don’t
worry; we’ll be fi ne. They’ll be looking for us right away. I’m sure of it.” But
you weren’t so sure. In fact, you knew it wasn’t true. It might be days before
you were found, since you’d had no time to radio for help. Rescuers probably
wouldn’t be dispatched until Friday, five days from now, when your failure to
show up in port would finally arouse concern.
On the third day, your passengers showed increasing signs of frustration,
anger, and fear. “Where are they?” Marie cried. “We can’t go on like this!”
You knew she was right. We can’t, you thought, not all of us anyway.
On the fourth day, the food was completely gone, and just enough water
remained to keep perhaps three people alive for another day, maybe two. Suddenly,
things got worse. “Is that water?!” Marie screamed, pointing a shaking
fi nger at the bottom of the lifeboat. Horrified, you looked down to see a slight
trickle of water seeping in at the very center of the boat. Dr. Brown grabbed
a T-shirt that was lying in the bottom of the boat and used it like a sponge to
absorb the water, wringing it out over the side and plunging it into the invading
water again and again. But it was no use; the water began to seep in faster
than Brown could work.
“We’re too heavy,” the lieutenant insisted without emotion. “We’ve got to
lighten the load. Someone has to get out and swim.”
“Swim?!” Marie gasped in disbelief. “Are you insane?! There are sharks in
“Who’s it going to be, Captain?” the lieutenant asked almost coldly, staring
you square in the eye. “Which one of us swims?”
“Me. I’ll go,” you say, swinging your leg out over the side of the boat.
“No,” Letty insisted. “You’re the only one who knows how to navigate. If you
go, we’ll all die. You must choose one of us to sacrifice.”
And so you did.
- Which one did you choose? Why? Why didn’t you choose the others?
- As you read, you probably imagined what the characters looked like. From
the image you had of them, describe the following characters in a few
Lieutenant Ashley Morganstern
- Do you think Dr. Brown is related to Marie Brown? If so, how?
- Look at your portraits of Dr. Brown. How many assumptions did you and
you make about the doctor’s gender, age, appearance, and
profession? What evidence in the story supports your image of the doctor?
5. Look at your portraits of the other characters. First, what similarities do
you find between your portraits and those of other students? Second, what evidence is there
in the story to support your assumptions? Are other assumptions possible?
Finally, where do you think your mental images came from?