Necessity Knows No Law

              In the chapter “Holy Victory” of the autobiography Growing up Untouchables in India by Vasant Moon, Moon narrates their poor condition when his mother doesn’t have any work. He says how intolerable the attack of hunger can be, which demolishes one’s spirit as well as one’s honesty. He describes how he is compelled to steal the old lady’s bananas after starvation of two days. After stealing her bananas, he doesn’t feel any guilt for stealing, but in the chapter “Dev Master’s Curse Fails,” he feels guilt after stealing his friend’s painting brush. He is again and again asking himself, “Why did I steal?”(Moon 35). The next day, he returns the brush to his friend because his bad spirit cannot cope up with his good spirit. However, I am surprised why he doesn’t feel any remorse after stealing the bananas. He just says, “Many thoughts started running through my mind. I felt pride in my mother’s honesty” (Moon 75). What about his dishonesty? Why doesn’t he utter a single word about his evil deed? One of my friends asked this question during our class discussion. I have a rationale for these two circumstances.

            When he steals the brush, he feels guilty because that is not his fundamental need, and he can survive without the painting brush. However, when he steals the bananas to satisfy his hunger, he doesn’t have any sense of right or wrong as he has been starving for two days at a time. At that time, he just needs something to fortify his stomach. Moon describes the situation very poignantly, “Hunger slowly begins to die. With it, the flowing spirit begins to dry up, free laughter vanishes” (ibid.). Poverty is such an evil thing that sometimes destroys all good qualities. Reading Moon’s experience, I am thinking myself, what would I do if I were in Moon’s position? I don’t find the answer from myself. Even I can’t imagine the situation of starving for two days at a stretch, so I don’t blame him for stealing in this situation. Moon is facing a critical situation when the dirty hand of poverty snatches away all good spirits. However, his mother’s honesty is admirable. She can starve for a long period, but Moon and his sister are still children. How can these little children starve so long?

 In conclusion, I think that without expressing any guilt himself for his misdeed, Moon has just let the readers to judge him. However, it is very hard to judge this situation. Is it unethical to steal in this situation, or can I punish a child for stealing food who has been starving for two days at a time? What do you think, friends?

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