Friends? | Teen Ink


December 16, 2008
By Anonymous


Sun-tuz said, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” This statement is something we always need to keep in mind. Friends will trust and support their friends, but they need to gain that trust and support from other people so there can be peace and harmony in our world. The short stories “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty and “Cranes” by Hwang Sunwon show that our enemies may not necessarily be our enemies. “The Sniper” deals with two men fighting from opposing sides of a civil war, whereas “Cranes” is set after South Korea invaded North Korea and tells about a man from South Korea on his way to take a man from North Korea into the officials. Songsam,“Cranes”, and the sniper from, “The Sniper”, have heterogeneous situations, but some occurrences are the same. Loyalty, motivation, and choices that determine the characters’ consequences are some reasons as to why enemies are enemies, but friends as well.

Immediately, the two characters from the stories have to make difficult verdicts that will change their lives dramatically. At the beginning of “Cranes,” Songsam escorts the vice-chairman of the Farmers Communist League, who “was none other than his boyhood playmate, Tokchae”(222) to the officials. Songsam has to decide if he should either turn his friend in or to let him go. On the other hand, the sniper is on a rooftop watching the rival sniper, waiting for him to make one sneaky move. The sniper may know or be a friend of the other man on the rooftop. Should he shoot? Both men carefully choose what side they’re on and stick to it.

Additionally, they decide what side they’re on because of their motives. Both characters have strong feelings about what will be the right move. They also have doubts about these feelings as well. The sniper wants to get the job done and defeat his enemy, even if it means shooting someone he knows. In the story, “from the opposite roof, a shot rang out and the sniper dropped his rifle with a curse…‘I’m hit,’ he muttered,”(213). Because the other sniper shot him in the arm, he is angry and wants to get back at him. In “Cranes,” as Songsam is talking to Tokchae, he wonders why his friend would take such an awful position in the league. To his surprise, Songsam finds that the leaders made Tokchae the vice-chairman because he was hardworking. He also says, “I’m still what I used to be- the only thing I’m good at is digging in the soil”(224). Their motives now lead to their dreadful final decisions.

In the end, the men arrive at their own conclusions. The sniper concludes “he must kill that enemy”(214). “He thought of a plan”(214) to make the other sniper believe he is dead so he could then kill his enemy when he wasn’t expecting it. He kills him and was curious about who he killed. We all know curiosity killed the cat, but he turns over the body anyway “and looked into his brother’s face”(215). Meanwhile, Songsam pretends to want to go crane hunting with Tokchae for old times sake and unties him. Tokchae is confused and “only then did Tokchae catch on. He started crawling among the weeds”(227). Songsam knows that he and Tokchae would probably be convicted for treason but he doesn’t want it on his conscience. The men both have an idea of what his consequences for his actions could have been.

Songsam decides to be devoted to his friend and let him go, but the sniper decides to be devoted to his country. We choose our own friends. No one would ever know which enemies could be our best friends if we didn’t give them and ourselves a chance to be.

All in all, enemies aren’t always enemies. Like in these stories, we need to be loyal, have good motives, and make decisions wisely and carefully.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Jan. 13 2011 at 11:05 pm
very good essay keep up the good work

piglover333 said...
on Oct. 22 2009 at 12:02 am
piglover333, Arcadia, California
0 articles 4 photos 2 comments
this piece is really nice, i have read both stories and it is really cool to define so deeply on their theme. you have stated your thesis clearly and overall your point was well stated