Can someone make a moral decision and an immoral decision; is there a definite line between right and wrong? After The First Death, by Robert Cormier, is an action filled novel about a terrorist, Miro, who contemplates whether or not he is making a right or wrong decision throughout this story. Miro is a very complex character most see as an extremely immoral character, however he is not immoral. There are many instances where we find Miro making moral decisions, as well as immoral decisions; the moment he is given the mask, instances while he is on the bus, and when he kills Kate.
When Miro is given the mask, it is an empowering part of the story. Miro is contemplating whether or not killing the bus driver is the right thing to do; “Sometimes, however, he brooded about the mask. He had the feeling that he must be doing something dishonorable if the operations and confrontations had to be carried out with faces hidden. If what we are doing is heroic, to deliver our people and restore our homeland, why must we hide who we are? He once asked Artkin. And Artkin had told him that there were many laws in this world, good laws and bad laws, right laws and wrong laws. According to the wrong laws, their mission, their work, was condemned. But their enemies had made these laws. So they had to disguise themselves to remain free under the wrong laws,” (41). Miro does not believe that if he has to hide who he is to follow through on his actions then they can not they be moral. When we are heroes we are happy about what we are doing and want people to know who we are, and in this quote, Miro shows us that he feels the same about that; but if he is doing this for his civilization there is a possibility that Miro is being moral and heroic.
Another instance where we see Miro being immoral, along with when he is given the mask, is while he is executing his terrorist attack on the bus. We begin seeing Miro is terrified when he is walking onto the bus; “Miro entered the bus and removed the mask. His skin was hot and flushed,”(104). The fact that Miro is flushed shows us as readers that he feels very uneasy about what he is doing from the start. As time passes on the bus we see numerous occurrences where Miro keeps talking about the girl, and he frowns every time he looks at her. The sadness and apprehensiveness we see displays Miro’s conscious side, showing a sign of morality. We also see Miro being moral when he says; “I accept mistakes because humans make mistakes. And the the young are expected to make mistakes. But to be careless is different. To be outside the bus with the girl inside, that was more than a mistake,”(165). Miro validates that he is a scrupulous person with this quote because it is showing his thoughts to himself; ultimately making him a moral character because even though it is wrong to him, he is still following through with the attacks for his society.
Along with the moment Miro is given the mask and instances while he is on the bus, lastly we see Miro kill Kate. This event was extremely appalling because at the moment when he shoots her it is completely unexpected. As Miro is mourning over Artkin we see a nurturing side to Kate; “ Kate cradled him, moving one free arm to embrace him. His wailing formed a word now as it rose from the hiding place, bursting out of the enclosure. Aaaarrttkinnnnnnn! Rising and then dying in the air lingering as only a faint echo in the ears. Kate rocked him gently, the way she had rocked the children on the bus, crooning softly, a song without tune, words without meaning, but sounds to bring him comfort and solace. She closed her eyes enfolding him, enclosing him with her body, with her warmth and her breath, her sweat and her urine. When he squeezed the trigger, the bullet smashed her heart, and she was dead within seconds,”(220). As we see Kate instantly die without Miro even contemplating whether or not he should, he just does it. Perhaps, he killed her so he could stay content within his society, if nothing was holding him back he could easily forget and continue more deaths after the first death. By doing this for his culture, this still makes him a moral character because in his civilization, what he did is morally correct.
The Nurture vs. Nature debate explains that our minds begin as a blank slate, if this is true then can a true moral really exist, the answer is no. Different people, different countries, and different ethnicities all have clashing morals and this is because we believe something is wrong due to what our society tells us. In Miro’s society it was perfectly fine to begin a terrorist attack and take innocent peoples lives because that is what he had to do to defend his homeland. In the end of After the First Death we see Miro finally choose the immoral side, the dark side; but essentially Miro never did anything immoral because killing people is considered honorable in his mind. It is up to us, as readers to decide whether Miro was a moral or an immoral character, and in the end Miro was a moral character because he knew what he had to do was technically bad, however he had to do what was best for his country, which makes him an honorable character.