The Palace Thief Character Analysis

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Should a person throw away their morals for their pride? Ethan’s Canin’s short story “The Palace Thief” is a story of William Hundert, a history teacher at St. Benedict’s School. Hundert says “that the school was his [Hundert’s] life” showing how truly proud he is to be teaching at that school. (Canin, p. 155). After five years of teaching there, Hundert receives Sedgewick Bell as his student. Sedgewick Bell, son of Senator Sedgewick Hyram Bell, causes much mischief in Hundert’s class and Hundert is determined to mold him. Through Hundert’s interactions with Sedgewick and his actions as time passes, the readers are able to see how Hundert possesses a very large amount of pride. When Sedgewick Bell first enters Hundert’s class, he does not …show more content…
Julius Caesar Reunion Competition. When Sedgewick spends a long time to contact Hundert about the competition, Hundert begins to worry about that Sedgewick is merely playing a trick on him. However, when Sedgewick finally contacts Hundert with all the accommodations, Hundert is ecstatic. When he is flown to the island, he “felt a headiness that I had never known before; it was what Augustus Caesar must have felt millennia ago, carried head-high on a litter past the Tiber” (Canin, p. 187). He is very happy of being able to feel a privilege that is possible because of one of his own students. When Hundert has dinner with the boys he feels happy and their actions, a repeat of what they used to do, brought tears to his eyes. Before the reunion competition, Hundert is able to spend time with the competitors as well as Martin Blythe, the student lost his place as a competitor because of Hundert’s actions in the Julius Caesar quizzes. It is during his boat ride with Martin that Martin asks about the competition. Following Hundert’s admission, Hundert “had the clear feeling that of having saved him [Martin] from some torment” (Canin, p. 191). This shows how proud of himself, he is and believes that he does not really make mistakes. He should have been the one to feel relieved as he was the one that wronged Martin, but he felt that he was the one who had managed to free Martin from …show more content…
Hundert’s pride and desire to be recognized as a great teacher by being able to change Sedgewick, makes him set aside his morals. While a small amount of pride is acceptable, excessive pride can lead a man to perform actions that may not be morally right. Hundert wished to teach his students their “own insignificance before the sands of time” (Canin, p. 157), he himself seems to have forgotten about it. He believes that all the good that his students have done was because of his teaching and not because of their own situations or the passage of

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