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Endless War

In: English and Literature

Submitted By fathehahzulkifly
Words 1204
Pages 5
Dear Students,

I would like to make justification regarding the two themes in the short story “My Friend Luke”. Firstly, let’s hope you really comprehend what is the meaning of “THEME” in literature. “THEME” refers to the central issue/topic that is being discussed in the text.

In the case of “My Friend Luke”, the themes “Respect” and “Identity Crisis” are among the issues that are allude for the reader to grasp, and perhaps see the connection with the reality of life.

“Respect” is being discussed in the story, as Luke does not receive the respect he deserved, neither from his family nor employer. His wife, son and boss do not have high regard towards him due to his timid character. In other words, you could say they are disrespectful towards Luke. However, disrespectful is not the theme being discussed. Disrespectful is the attitude shown to Luke. What the author is trying to convey is, in life, respect is at the utmost importance. It is important to improve respect because of the impacts that respect has both on the relationship and results. As an analogy, when a man works with someone where he has little respect or no respect, he tends to go out of his way to avoid the person. Conversely, in a work relationship, he may still avoid that person, suffer the frustration of having to deal with them, or quit and stay in the job and continue to make himself miserable.

Similarly, that is what happening in Luke’s family and the people around him. They have to deal with the frustration of dealing with Luke as he is the husband, father and the oldest employer as they have lack of respect and show their disrespectfulness as a way to manage the exasperation that they are having with him. Consequently, Luke has a poor relationship with the people around him as a result of lack of respect.

Another example to support this theme is Luke’s behavior on the bus, where in contrast, he is the one showing disrespectfulness towards the bus passengers. Except, at one moment he wants other passengers to give seats to the children and elders. That is also temporary as he wants others to respect and be nice to these people though he is not doing it.

Whether respect is declared or whether it occurs as a judgment, it is an expression of the way the person who is respecting or not respecting sees themselves and others. Respect is in the eye of the beholder and is not a function of the behavior or attributes of those we are relating to. IF RESPECT IS A JUDGMENT, IT BECOMES A TOOL OF THE EGO AND ACTUALLY A SOURCE OF SEPARATION AND CONFLICT BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS. The alternative is to understand that respect is an action, a declaration and a commitment on our part of whom another person is separate and apart from whatever judgments we might have of their behavior.

Hence, instead of using “DISRESPECT” as the theme, “RESPECT” is more suitable because without respect, it will lead to difference of opinion and negative actions, such as disrespect.


To comprehend this theme, let’s take a look at the meaning of “IDENTITY CRISIS”. According to the dictionary, IDENTITY CRISIS means:

“A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.”

While according to the online, IDENTITY CRISIS means:

“A period or episode of psychological distress, often occurring in adolescence, but sometimes in adulthood, when a person seeks a clearer sense of self and an acceptable role in the society”.

Thus, without a doubt, IDENTITY CRISIS is one of the issues portrayed in the short story “My Friend Luke”. What happened to Luke’s behavior on the bus is the episode of his psychological distress. Referring to the short story, Luke, in his actual world is a timid and reserved person. Nevertheless, on the bus, his personality greatly changed to someone who is obnoxious. The underlying message of this incident clearly exemplify that Luke is trying to be accepted by the society (passengers on the bus) for who he really is. He is unable to command himself and be as expected at home or even at work with the role that he is adhered to as a man in the society. As a result, he is unqualified to neither voice any opinion nor be respected by the people around him, as he would love to.

Accordingly, Luke acts the way he wanted on the bus, without concerning what other passengers think about him. The explicit purpose, which can be seen, is definitely a change in behavior, but on a deeper analysis (after all, this is literature, not merely reading on the surface) it is a way for Luke wanting to be accepted by the society. Why do you think the author wrote that particular scene in the short story? Why do you think the author would like to talk about the behavioral change of the main character? Certainly, there is a message or issue that he would like to highlight for the reader to ponder, for this is a literary text. In this case, the message or issue that can be inferred is, when a person is forced to be the person that he refused to be in a context that he lives in, he will continue to exhibit the same personality or characteristics which will eventually become permanent to his life. However, when there is an opportunity for him to be his true self, he will most likely grab it to prove his worth.

In correspondence to this, Luke was forced to be someone he dislikes, by those who have stronger personalities than he does, or more dominant than him for a long period of time (evidently until he is old). Beyond question, the real situation that he is dealing with could cause him suffering psychologically as he is put away from everything in such duration. Being on the bus is where he could get the opportunity to act the way he wanted, which is deemed unacceptable by the people close to him. Undeniably, through Luke’s action on the bus, he feels accepted as no one is telling him that his actions are wrong.

Identity crisis is a conflict that people face in them. Therefore, the meaning of identity crisis fits the scene demonstrated by the author in the short story “My Friend Luke” and for that reason, “IDENTITY CRISIS” is the theme for the short story.

P/S: If you have any doubts on what you learn, please feel free to seek clarification from your lecturers instead of trusting a single source of information that has little support/explanation. Trust us, we did research before teaching you in class.

To understand more why this theme is the topic discussed for this short story, please read more on identity crisis and see the relation with the main character, Luke. You can also click the link below, an explanation by Dr. Susan Krauss on identity crisis:…...

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