All individuals hold a prideful nature within them. Honour is what keeps individuals from acting out of line and keeps them cooperative with society. However, when one’s honour is lost they may find that their previously secure future is now threatened by uncertainty. This uncertainty creates a sense of danger in individuals which causes discomfort and could potentially drive them to madness. As a result, individuals will often seek to restore this certainty in their lives by whatever means necessary. The excerpt titled “Redemption” by John Gardner exemplifies the idea that when an ignorant individual has their honor damaged, they believe that redemption will come through inaction and believe that with time they will be able to restore their certainty. However, they will eventually come to realize that they must take action and search for their honour.
The text conveys the tale of a young farm boy who accidentally killed his brother while playing around on the farm. The tale describes his story of regret and how music aids in evading his feelings of darkness, but also how music eventually teaches him how to restore his honour. Initially, Jack is seen as regretful following his brother’s death. He seeks redemption through isolation and believes that as time passes, a sense of certainty will come with it. However this is not the case. He describes how time is constantly passing but his dark feelings and remorse does not fade. So then, he resorts to blaming himself. He attempts to convince himself that he never loved his brother at all, that he never had any honour to begin with. After all, without honour to lose, what was there to redeem? However, that too ends up unsuccessful. It is only when Jack meets Arcady Yegudkin, a teacher at the Eastman School of Music does he have an epiphany. As he listens to the professor play his new horn he begins to see parallels between his life and the way the professor played the horn. He hears how the horn seems to keep dropping in notes and constantly reaching new lows appearing to continue endlessly. This connects with him immediately to his feelings of depression and how he, as a result from lack of honour, cannot bring himself back up. When the note jumps up but fails to reach the E note, it is parallel to how Jack tried to restore his honour in so many different ways but always failed, always reaching a limit unable to surpass it. However, when the note jumps up once again and “bursts” through the E note, Jack is awed as it communicates to him how he must take action and surpass his limits if he wishes to restore his honour. Rather than having negative thoughts such as self-shame or inaction in just waiting for time to pass, he must embrace the fact and take action to restore his honour. Rather than dwelling in the past and continually working on the farm surrounded by constant reminders of his dishonor, Jack moves on as he attempts to learn move on through music and seeks redemption in his life through idealism. He seems safety and stability as he requests Yegudkin to take him under as a pupil.
Similarly, there have been times in my life when I found myself in distress as I struggled to restore my honour and certainty. I have always been a high achiever in school, one who always seeks the best results possible. This was my honour and created a sense of certainty for me. I always had a general idea of how my life would play out if I could remain successful in school. However, I eventually found this to not be the case. When one bad mark I soon saw my honour tarnished and my security threatened. While in the big picture it might not have been significant, my honour had been damaged and I needed to replace it. Initially I was content with just one bad mark. I believed that over time, understanding would come to me and I would, once again, find success and be able to restore my honour. However, this proved to be a falsehood I had told myself. Test and after test, my mark would not improve, instead, it continually plummeted until I had lost certainty in my own ability. Simply waiting and letting time pass did not aid me in the slightest. It only allowed my failure to propagate and affect me more. It was only when I took action into my own hands and surpassed my previous efforts did I manage to bring my mark back up and restore my honour. Just waiting carelessly and letting actions take their course was detrimental to my goals and only served to further establish my uncertainty. Much like Jack in his tale of redemption, I had discovered that only through action would I be able to redeem my honour.
It is often said that with time, comes certainty. But this has proven to not always be true. There will be occasions where an individual’s inaction will not restore their certainty but rather further propagate their uncertainty and harm their honour. Ultimately one must seize control of their lives and do whatever necessary to improve their condition.