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    #1

    Question Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    Greetings. I am writing a paper about an ethical problem I am facing, and this (below) is my introduction. Am I using "allegory" correctly? In the paper I tell the story that men in the water tried to climb onto the life boats and the men inside would push them off otherwise the life boat would capsize.

    "My Uncle Giulio was a US Merchant Marine during WWII, a time when mariners suffered a greater percentage of casualties than all other US military services. He told a lot of stories about danger and bravery at sea. To me, one of those stories is an allegory about what happens if we are asked for help, but giving it means we will suffer harm. Therein lies an ethical problem that I will be facing in the next few months."

    Thank you!

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    #2

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    An allegory must, by definition, be fictional. It sounds like your uncle's story is either factual, or based on fact. Helping someone into a lifeboat can be a metaphor for helping someone in any situation.

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    #3

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    Ah good point. The story is factual. It cannot be an allagory, then.

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    #4

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    I used your advice to re-write the introduction. I am happy with it, I think, because it opens the door to a flood of ideas in the paper. Here is the re-write:

    Uncle Giulio was a US Merchant Marine during WWII. One of his stories about danger at sea is, to me, a metaphor about what happens if you are asked for help, but giving it means you could harm yourself.

    When a torpedo hit his ship, the blast damaged some of the life boats, and those still operable became filled with so many men that one more would cause it to capsize. When men in the water reached over the side to save themselves, the men inside hit their hands with oars, causing what Giulio called “lifeboat knuckles.” Displaying his twisted hands, Giulio jokingly says that is how he learned to swim.

    In January, I will be in the life boat, and two of my colleagues will be in the water, reaching over the side for help. I must decide whether to pull them in and risk harm to myself, or give them lifeboat knuckles.
    Last edited by Bankbuddy; 13-Nov-2007 at 06:58. Reason: changed words that are the subject of the question


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    #5

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    Quote Originally Posted by robpioli@roadrunner.com View Post
    I used your advice to re-write the introduction. I am happy with it, I think, because it opens the door to a flood of ideas in the paper. Here is the re-write:

    Uncle Giulio was a US Merchant Marine during WWII. One of his stories about danger at sea is, to me, a metaphor about what happens if you are asked for help, but giving it means you could harm yourself.

    When a torpedo hit his ship, the blast damaged some of the life boats, and those still operable became filled with so many men that one more would cause it to capsize. When men in the water reached over the side to save themselves, the men inside hit their hands with oars, causing what Giulio called “lifeboat knuckles.” Displaying his twisted hands, Giulio jokingly says that is how he learned to swim.

    In January, I will be in the life boat, and two of my colleagues will be in the water, reaching over the side for help. I must decide whether to pull them in and risk harm to myself, or give them lifeboat knuckles.
    I think you have a good idea for using your Uncle's experience in a time of crisis as a metaphor for an ethical problem today.

    I really liked this line: Displaying his twisted hands, Giulio jokingly says that is how he learned to swim. The twisted hands fits well with your ethical problem.

    I do have some comments though.

    1. I don't think that you specifically have to mention that this story is a metaphor for ethical problems today. Your readership will figure that out.

    2. Watch your verb tenses. Be consistent. Even in the sentence that I liked you use the present tense when obviously the story was told in the past.

    3. I think you need a stronger first sentence. Your essay is not about Uncle Giulio is it? Should he be used in the first paragraph....certainly. But the first sentence???? This is an important sentence that sets the tone for the overall piece. Give it a little more thought.

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    #6

    Smile Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    Thank you so much! I think I made changes that address your generous and insightful comments, and seem quite a bit better to me. Here is the rewritten intro. I think it's better, thanks to your gracious help (my hands are straight):

    "Lifeboat Knuckles"

    I will soon be asked to help someone in the workplace. I am the only one who can help them, but if I do so, I may cause harm to myself. The ethical decision I must make is whether I should place their interests ahead of my own, or protect myself at their expense.

    In making this decision, I am guided by a story told by my Uncle Giulio, who was on a US Merchant Marine during WWII when it was struck by a German torpedo. The blast damaged some of the life boats, and those still operable became filled with so many men that one more would cause it to capsize. When men in the water reached over the side to save themselves, the men inside hit their hands with oars, causing what Giulio called “lifeboat knuckles.” Displaying his twisted hands, Giulio would jokingly say that is how he learned to swim.

    In my situation at the workplace, I feel like I will be in the lifeboat capable of helping those in the water, and my colleagues will be reaching over the side asking for my help. My ethical decision is whether to pull them in and risk harming myself, or give them lifeboat knuckels. Specifically, .... [etc. abou the facts of the problem]


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    #7

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    Quote Originally Posted by robpioli@roadrunner.com View Post
    Thank you so much! I think I made changes that address your generous and insightful comments, and seem quite a bit better to me. Here is the rewritten intro. I think it's better, thanks to your gracious help (my hands are straight):

    "Lifeboat Knuckles"

    I will soon be asked to help someone in the workplace. I am the only one who can help them, but if I do so, I may cause harm to myself. The ethical decision I must make is whether I should place their interests ahead of my own, or protect myself at their expense.

    In making this decision, I am guided by a story told by my Uncle Giulio, who was on a US Merchant Marine during WWII when it was struck by a German torpedo. The blast damaged some of the life boats, and those still operable became filled with so many men that one more would cause it to capsize. When men in the water reached over the side to save themselves, the men inside hit their hands with oars, causing what Giulio called “lifeboat knuckles.” Displaying his twisted hands, Giulio would jokingly say that is how he learned to swim.

    In my situation at the workplace, I feel like I will be in the lifeboat capable of helping those in the water, and my colleagues will be reaching over the side asking for my help. My ethical decision is whether to pull them in and risk harming myself, or give them lifeboat knuckels. Specifically, .... [etc. abou the facts of the problem]
    One comment on a nice rewrite.

    Does a "lifeboat capable of helping" have a risk if it saves someone? To me "capable" means "can do"...is this the right adjective here? Perhaps it is? I don't know...it is up to you....but nice rewrite. I think you have a good composition going...

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    #8

    Re: Allegory, metaphor, or something else?

    I am impressed with your ability to read so carefully and find this part!

    I will rewrote that part to say something more like, "...I will be in the lifeboat and my colleagues will be reaching over the side asking for my help."

    Thank you so much!!!! Buy you a beer?

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