Unlike Dave and Tigo who are members of rival gangs and who gradually discover, under dire circumstances, that they rather like each other as individuals, the two young men, Anpu and Bata, in “A Greedy Friend” had
friends, until the incident that occurs in the story, making friendship impossible. And, unlike “The Last Spin,” this story, whose author is anonymous, is set in a city in the Middle East, in a Muslim culture. The boys had moved to the city to start a shoe repair business, and with no explanation, the narrator reports that Anpu fears that Bata may be a thief. Unfortunately Anpu must make a journey home and not wanting to carry his money on the road with him, under cover of darkness, he digs a hole in the back yard and buries it. Upon his return, he finds his money missing and goes straight away to a cadi, addressing him, “Most honorable judge, my false friend Bata has dug up my money while I was gone. You must chop off his hands, for that is the punishment given to thieves.” (Hartford Courant) It is clear that Anpu identifies with the laws of his culture, and he is intent on exacting what he has been taught is justice for the crime of stealing.
Anpu admits to the questioning judge that he did not actually see Bata take the money, even though he is sure that he did it. And so begins the real conflict in the story as the wise cadi, the judge, gradually wrestles with Anpu about the difference between simply executing the law, and exacting justice. In fact, Bata, who did steal the money, never enters on the stage in the story except anecdotally. The judge sets Bata up so that in the end, Bata returns Anpu’s money to the hole in the backyard and adds some of his own to it. Anpu gets his own money back and some of Bata’s as well. The cadi points out that now it is not necessary to cut off Bata’s hands because Anpu has lost nothing and in fact gained some of Bata’s money.
The last line in the story, “‘Now go your way and live in happiness,’ the cadi finished.” (Hartford Courant) leads the reader to believe that the outcome of the cadi’s strategy satisfies Anpu, who has come to see a better way than chopping off Bata’s hands. After all, if the cadi had ordered that Bata’s hands be chopped off, Anpu would not necessarily have gotten his money back.
It is easy, at first glance, to think that the conflict is between Anpu and Bata, but in fact, the players are the cadi and Anpu. That is where the tension lies. There are even more twists and turns to the story, and the reader discovers that the highest order of justice is served through the cadi’s very creative thinking. Sometimes there is a higher order of justice than simply following the strict order of the law.
Anpu, who in his anger at Bata, just wants to punish him according to his culture, allows the judge to show him another way to render justice and to feel satisfied. The way Anpu would have handled Bata and the way the judge handled Bata had entirely different outcomes. Once students have completed their graphic organizers that show how Anpu changes and why, they will discuss the advantages of going with the strict law or following the creative strategy of the cadi.
Their writing might emanate from their own experiences or those of people they know who rushed to get justice, or those who have been on the receiving end of strict law. Using a technique called
, is a way to get everyone to share what comes to mind when they think of justice and/or the law, imagining oneself as the victim and as the perpetrator.
is meant to generate discussion and it always seems to be successful. (See Lesson Plan # 2 for a more detailed explanation of this activity.)
Further, students might consider what Anpu and Bata each learned from the outcome that the cadi orchestrated. Bata, the perpetrator, had to return all of Anpu’s money and lost some of his own, but he did not lose his hands. Anpu, the victim, had the satisfaction of getting his own money back, along with some of Bata’s. And the Cadi, through his wise and clever thinking, was able to challenge Anpu with an opportunity to expand his thinking about the law and justice. Bata, as well, may have learned something from the loss of his money.