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The Cold Equations: Literary Analysis Essay

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An ethical dilemma is when a decision is to be made between two options, both of which are morally correct but in conflict with one another. In “The Cold Equation” by Tom Godwin, Barton, a stardust pilot on a mission to delivery medicine to Woden to save the lives of six men, struggles with this theme when he meets a young stowaway, Marilyn, upon his ship. Godwin expresses the theme of ethical decisions in the short story with the use of the literary elements tone and mood. In Godwin’s short story “The Cold Equations”, the overall theme is ethical dilemma.

The theme is supported by Barton’s inner thoughts. For example, when Barton’s expresses his thought, “The men of the frontier knew — but how was a girl from Earth to fully understand? h amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x safely to its destination. To him and her brother and parents she was a sweet-faced girl in her teens; to the laws of nature she was x, the unwanted factor in a cold equation. ” (Godwin 10), he his struggling with the realization that this girl is innocent but the ship will not make it to Woden to save the crew with her on it..

This example fortifies Barton’s internal struggle with the logical reasoning compared to his emotional feelings of Marilyn. The theme of ethical decisions is lucidly exhibited through the internal strive of Barton thoughts and actions throughout the short story. Tone, way of communicating information that conveys an attitude. Godwin conveys a very suspenseful tone the carries throughout the whole story. “He leaned back in the pilot’s chair and drew a deep, slow breath, considering what he would have to do.

He was an EDS pilot, inured to the sight of death, long since accustomed to it and to viewing the dying of another man with an objective lack of emotion, and he had no choice in what he must do. There could be no alternative — but it required a few moments of conditioning for even an EDS pilot to prepare himself to walk across the room and coldly, deliberately, take the life of a man he had yet to meet. He would, of course, do it. ‘It was the law, stated very bluntly and definitely in grim Paragraph L, Section 8, of Interstellar Regulations: Any stowaway discovered in an EDS shall be jettisoned immediately following discovery.

It was the law, and there could be no appeal. ” (Godwin 1) The author goes around in circles, that Barton has no other options than to kill the stowaway on board the ship, the delay is Barton conscious coming to terms that he must kill an innocent person to save the troops on Woden. This delay in his actions sends the reader into a state of suspense, that will linger until the deed is done. “there is something that makes this story interesting: suspense. The author uses this literary tool, to keep the reader turning the pages. In the beginning, it is the suspense of meeting this ‘stowaway.

… The author of this story does a very good job of detailing everything throughout the story… The next example of suspense is when Barron phoned for Gerry so the girl could say her last goodbye. Gerry isn’t there at the moment but they said that they will send for him immediately. ” (Costello) Barton and Marlynns time seems to last forever on the ship because Godwin was good at detailing every second as if it were an hour. Barton had an ethical dilemma on his hands and Godwin use of suspense we could tell that neither Barton, the ships captain, and Godwin’ the author, wanted to kill a young innocent girl.

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