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Responsibility In Mitch Alboms The Five People You Meet In Heaven Essay

When jealousy takes over Cain and leads him to murder his Brother, God questions his involvement. Cain replies, “I know not. Am I my Brother’s Keeper”(Genesis 4:1-8). The concept of social responsibility and looking after one another first addressed in the bible story of Cain and Abel, was also addressed by Mitch Albom in his novel The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Social responsibility is the idea that the individual must look after others for the betterment of society. The protagonist in the novel, an elderly maintenance worker at an amusement park, begins his journey of self discovery with his own death.

When Eddie dies in an attempt to save the life of a young girl at the park, known as Ruby Pier, he is brought up to heaven to meet five people who have been waiting for him to arrive. Each of these five people tells Eddie a different story, of a different time and a different interaction, but as Eddie soon comes to know, all stories intersect. The lessons Eddie learns in heaven each tell of a point in Eddie’s life that he kept others and that others kept him. Though he felt disconnected from the life he led on earth, as he learns from the five people he meets in heaven, Eddie’s existence comes to take on a whole new eaning.

Throughout the novel, Albom uses the concept of interconnectedness to discredit the notion of strangers, suggesting that each individual is connected and therefore obligated to be socially responsible for others. As Eddie journeys through heaven, he is taught five lessons from people who left a significant impact on his life. However, only one of the five people he meets in heaven had developed a relationship with Eddie during his life, whereas the rest he considers to be strangers. When he first wakes up, Eddie is in a familiar place yet in unfamiliar company.

Before him, is Ruby Pier, and the first erson he meets in heaven- the Blue Man. Though their paths crossed when Eddie was a young boy, the two did not develop a relationship. Eddie was ultimately the cause of the Blue Man’s demise, which stemmed from a harmless incident. Eddie’s actions had profound impacts on the Blue Man’s life, even though Eddie thought of him as a stranger. Yet despite their limited interactions, Eddie was still able to influence his life, as he learns from the Blue Man “That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (Albom 48).

This analogy and Blue Man’s lesson as a whole touches in on the topic of interconnectedness. He explains to Eddie that there is no way to separate the impact of his actions, just as there is no way to separate a breeze from the wind. Though he was thought of as a stranger, the Blue Man was ultimately Eddie’s keeper. He saved Eddie’s life and consequently lost his because of it. Through this lesson, Albom reveals that the consequences of an individual’s actions are widespread, whether or not they are intended to be.

This is demonstrated through both the Blue Man and Eddie’s side of the story. Albom states, “take one story, viewed from two ifferent angles.. one angle ends happily, at an arcade, with a little boy. the other ends badly, in a city morgue. “(Albom 44). During the incident, the actions of Eddie and of the Blue Man were intertwined; Eddie was the cause of the Blue Man’s death whereas the blue Man was the reason Eddie survived. The usage of different perspectives provides insight to the consequences of and of not being one’s keeper.

Though the Blue Man and Eddie did not know each other, this isolated interaction was enough to dictate their life and death. The Blue Man kept Eddie safe and spared his life, yet Eddie failed to do he same, resulting in the Blue Man’s death. Thus, Albom suggests that practicing social responsibility is important because it is just as easy to negatively impact a person as it is to positively impact someone. In order for a person to be socially responsible, they must be their brother’s keeper, looking out for all of those around them, just as the Blue Man did.

The next step of Eddie’s journey through heaven brings him to the vibrant jungles of the Philippines, where he proper function of his leg. During his time there, Eddie and his unit were held hostage by enemy forces, inflicted with the brutality of their captors. After escaping from captivity, Eddie and his comrades torched the village to take revenge. In the process, Eddie’s leg was wounded, leaving him with permanent impairments. His leg injury and experience in the Philippines changed his outlook on his life. Since he no longer felt in control of his leg, he no longer felt control of himself.

However, little did Eddie know that the loss of proper function of his leg spared his life. The second person Eddie meets in heaven, is his old Captain from the war. Once again, Eddie feels like he has no connection to the Captain. However, despite their limited relations, the Captain, like the Blue Man, also left a significant impression on Eddie’s life. After expressing his discontent with his life and the circumstances of his leg, the Captain told Eddie, “I took your leg.. ‘to save your life” (Albom 88). In order to save Eddie from himself, the Captain made the decision to shoot him in the leg.

After he torched the village, Eddie thought he saw a figure in one of the houses. Stubbornly, he persisted to try to save the person, resisting comrades who tried to take him away. The Captain was left with no choice, as he had promised his men that he would not leave anyone behind. He shoots Eddie in the leg, an injury which Eddie perceives as a catastrophe, and ght in combat, and lost haunts him for the rest of his life. The author’s use of a hyperbole in saying that the Captain took Eddie’s leg, emphasizes the magnitude of the injury from Eddie’s perspective.

His involvement within the incident displays how social responsibility does not rest on personal relationships. The Captain’s noble acts were not based on emotion, but rather obligation. No matter how stubborn Eddie was, the Captain did not let his opinions of him overrule his social responsibility to keep Eddie alive. The Captain’s actions came to alter Eddie’s life. Not only did he save him from death, but he also inflicted the injury which burdened him throughout his life. Eddie’s leg is prevalent throughout the story, as Albom tells of how the impairment altered Eddie’s existence.

The Captain and the four other people Eddie meets in heaven “[were] a part of [his] life, part of why [he] lived and how [he] lived. “(Albom 93). Though he did not know it at the time, strangers throughout his life, such as the Blue Man and the Captain played a critical part in how and why he lived. Their actions-ranging from accidental to onorable- dictated the path of Eddie’s life, and impacted not only Eddie, but the people he would interact with from that point on. This reveals that relationships between people do not influence an individual’s impact on someone.

Albom addresses the concept of interconnectedness here by showing how despite the lack of relationship, the Captain’s actions were able to influence how and why Eddie lived. The first lesson that Eddie is taught regards interconnection, which is then used to demonstrate how strangers are merely a figment. As Eddie enters his third step in heaven, he is met by a woman whom he erceives as a stranger. He asks himself, “why a stranger? ” (Albom 111). However, this “stranger” turns out to be no stranger at all to Eddie’s life.

Her name is Ruby, and she is the reason that Eddie’s father was employed, and why Eddie felt dissatisfaction with his life; she was the reason Ruby Pier was built. The relationship between Eddie and Ruby was nonexistent, yet despite this, Ruby’s existence proved to dictate almost every aspect of Eddie’s life. The Pier was where Eddie’s father worked all of his life, and where Eddie grew up and ultimately worked all of his life. As well as having great influence n his life, Ruby also had great influence on Edde in heaven. In heaven, she served as an emotional keeper, mending the relationship between Eddie and his father.

After her husband fell ill, Ruby found herself in his hospital room, alongside her husband and another terminally ill patient. Ruby witnessed the other man’s last moments of life, as he pleaded for his wife and sons. The man was Eddie’s father, whom Eddie had despised throughout his life. Despite the abuse his father inflicted on him, he had ultimately valued his family above all else. Ruby recognized this in the hospital room, and when Eddie reaches er in heaven, helps him to find closure in his relationship with his father. Though she was a stranger Ruby proved to be an instrumental part in both Eddie’s life and afterlife.

Previous to meeting Ruby, the Blue Man had explained to Eddie that strangers are simply a deception. Eddie expresses his confusion regarding why the Blue Man was content with giving his life up for him, considering the two were essentially strangers. However, the Blue Man responds, “Strangers’.. ‘are just family you have yet come to meet” (Albom 49). He suggests that all humans are brothers and sisters, regardless of their affiliation. The Blue Man demonstrates to Eddie that his sacrifice did not have less meaning because it was not for a loved one.

Rather, he indicates that the connection between humans is like a brotherhood. One that regardless of relationships, is bonded together through interconnection. This concept ties back to “My Brother’s Keeper”, because it literally suggests that all individuals are brothers and thus it is each individual’s obligation to be their brother’s keeper. As each individual is connected to others, looking over one another becomes the responsibility of each member of society. As Eddie reflected on is life, he came to the realization that the impact of his actions was far greater than he had imagined.

Through lessons from the Blue Man, The Captain, and Ruby, Eddie was able to understand that he was connected to all other individuals, and that the actions of everyone affected him, regardless of his relation to them. People he once perceived as strangers turned out to have life-altering effects on him. As Albom threads the theme of connection throughout the story, he suggests that the principles of being “My Brothers Keeper” must be exercised by all members of society, because the connections between people are ever present.

No matter what level the relationship with the other person is, the concept of interconnectedness proves that a relationship always exists. The lessons Albom provides regarding social responsibility can be directly applied to how one treats others on a daily basis. Like The Blue Man, The Captain, and Ruby, those whom an individual may encounter throughout their life are all a part of the web of human connections. Because of these links, it is the obligation of each individual to practice social responsibility for the advancement of society.

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