Centeno's Sympathy

Decent Essays
How capable are people, truly, of empathizing with those unlike them? The stories of two men, one deformed and the other poor, are presented to readers, and which character readers better empathize with relies upon which character readers better relate to. In ¨The Elephant Man¨ by Bernard Pomerance, and in ¨Tuesday Siesta¨ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, readers are introduced to John Merrick and Carlos Centeno, respectively. The story that better manipulates empathy is Carlos Centeno´s, simply because most are more capable of putting themselves in his shoes. The beginnings of both stories set the precedent for the rest. Readers learn about the Centeno and Merrick not from what they say or do, but what others say of them. Centeno is introduced by the story of his death and his name. His story is set in the town where he died, where ¨no one in town knew him.¨ Merrick, the Elephant Man, is introduced to us through his advertisement for a freak show, described only as a ¨despised creature¨. Centeno himself is shrouded in ambiguity, whereas Merrick is minimized as a person and exposed. In becoming familiar with the ¨thief¨ and the ¨freak of nature¨, most readers find it easier to relate to the classic, good-though-wayward character–––Centeno. Merrick is much more difficult to relate to, as…show more content…
Whereas Centeno´s personal story is revealed to readers, Merrick is only described further in medical terms. His mother says that Centeno ¨was a very good man¨, but all we learn of Merrick has to do with his ¨enormous head¨ and various other deformities. With the revelation of Centeno´s family, readers are better able to view him as a person and empathize with him. Yet, in Merrick´s case, many readers still see him as a tragedy. Perhaps that can be attributed to the unpleasant emotional results that empathizing with Merrick would have on readers, which could lead them to choose sympathizing with Merrick over empathizing with
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