Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Essay: why did Lawrence give his officer's side arm to his Bedouin guide?

Webley Mark 3 .455 Revolver
Originally uploaded by barjack
"Take it."

In class Tues students wrote about the scene in Lawrence of Arabia in which Lawrence impulsively gives his Webley officer's pistol to his Bedouin guide on their first day in the desert.

It is clear that the Arab hungers for such a fine weapon. Yet he would never ask for it. Lawrence knows the man would treasure the pistol. Yet it is distinctly against army rules to give away your piece.

We can imagine that Lawrence breaks the army law for several reasons.
a) The gift is designed to create a positive bond between the men.
b) Lawrence no longer has to worry about the possibility of the gun being stolen. The guide now ceases thinking about how to get the gun.
c) It states Lawrence's intentions in being among the Bedouins:
- he is not there to threaten or bully.
- his values are different from the typical army man.
- he is a maverick and a man of generosity.
- his sense of imagination is surprising and cool.

When alien cultures meet, an act of generosity can be a step towards cooperation and peace.

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