Humbled and Changed?

This very morning, the illusion completed its disappearance, and, as it were all of a sudden, Troy hated himself.

Far from the Madding Crowd p. 277

Death can be the event that shocks one out of his hero story, especially one in which we are wholly or partly responsible: “Troy, as he stood by this dismantled grave, wished himself another man.”

Troy came to realize that those character defects that he assumed would just resolve themselves in time were a part of who he was and would not change on their own. He now realized what was evident to the reader: “the mere finishing stroke is what often appears to create an event which has long been potentially an accomplished thing” p. 278. The reader knows he’s despicable; now Troy knows it too—too late to display a character like Oak’s: generous and true. 

And yet, being humbled and changing is a worthy story. Living in the consequences of destructive behavior with humility and grace is still worthy of emulation, as we all are wretched in some ways. 

David shows us this. His ending is, in one sense, despicable: he reaps what he sowed with Bathsheba and Uriah. And yet he did not expect special treatment, willing to be cursed by Shimei, for he assumed it was possible that God had sent Shimei to do so (2 Samuel 16:5–14). He refused to lean on past glories or present power. He took what came. The questions remains, here though, whether Troy’s humiliation will change him for the better, or will he simply despise himself but remain in essence, Sergeant Troy? And then we must turn that question on ourselves. 

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