February 15 2017

Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. — Malcolm Gladwell

Tonight, please discuss the quotation above with regard to Night, Of Mice and Men, and Ethan Frome.  Use lots of text-based details to support your analysis.

As always, follow the rules of standard written American English and be sure to respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted February 15, 2017 by equinson in category Ethan Frome, Night, Of Mice and Men

34 thoughts on “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. — Malcolm Gladwell

  1. Toa Neil

    This quote relates to both “Of Mice and Men” and “Ethan Frome” in key ways. In of mice and men Lennie uses his instincts too much and ends up dead. In Ethan Frome, Ethan first overthinks everything and then when they decide on something they go to much with their guts and not their heads. Overall, they both are not balanced in thinking.

  2. ilyssal

    The above quote reminds me of both the novellas “Ethan Frome” and “Of Mice and Men”. In both novellas there was a lack of thinking. Ethan Frome and Mattie, the woman he claims to be in love with, want to escape their present life. They feel trapped because of Zeena who is the wife of Ethan. Spontaneously the idea pops into both their heads to commit suicide so they can stay together forever, and not in constant fear of Zeena, Their plan did not work as planned and instead left Mattie paralyzed and grey. In “Of Mice and Men”, Lennie, one of the two major roles, has a mental disability so he is unable to think clearly. Neither Ethan or Lennie are able to find the balance between their thoughts and they face consequences because of it.

  3. charlottes

    “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell

    This quote related to all three novella we’ve read. There are many important decisions to be made in the novella “Night.” In the beginning, Eliezer must decide whether he will run into the electric fence. This is instinctive thinking. He has instinct to run into the fence to not die in flames. When he decides to lie about his age to be with his father, that is deliberate thinking. It took thought for him to come to this decision, where the other choice was his instinct. In the story of “Of Mice and Men,” George and Lennie both make extreme decisions. Lennie decides to pick up Curley’s wife by her hair (which kills her). This is an instinct, he made the decision on the spot. He also doesn’t really know how to make a deliberate decision. On the other hand, George’s decision to kill Lennie was definitely deliberate. It probably took long thought and consideration to come to that conclusion. Finally, major decisions about relationships and the future are made in “Ethan Frome.” Instinctive decisions aren’t really common in this novella. If someone is going to make a decision, they will think about it and consider other options. Zeena had deliberate thinking when she went to see the doctor. She must have thought about how Ethan doesn’t really love her and what would happen when she goes away. It was also deliberate thinking when Ethan chose to attempt suicide with Mattie. He thought about his love for Mattie and escapism from his miserable life. He took a few minutes to come to the answer. Deliberate and instinctive thinking are very important in the three novellas.

  4. tarika1

    The quote above relates to the books we have been reading. The books we have been reading involve a lot of thinking. In “Of Mice and Men”, Lennie made rash decisions in a panic when he would hold on to people or dresses. Lennie made rash decisions while George would be the logical thinker when he thought about the future and what he would do without Lennie. In “Night” Elie Wiesel had to make decisions such as leaving the camp when they evacuated and to feed him or his father. In “Ethan Frome”, Ethan would make rash decisions about Mattie, such as when he tried to commit suicide.

  5. Tyler Newby

    The characters in “Night” by Elie Wiesel, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton rely on their decisions with their lives.  Malcolm Gladwell once said “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.”  The characters in these three novellas are amazing demonstrators of what Gladwell means by this.  In “Night” by Elie Wiesel, Elie records his own experience in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.  During his time in the concentration camps, Wiesel had to fight for his life, quite literally.  Every last decision was life or death.  His decisions relied almost purely on his instinct, however.  Wiesel and many other victims of the Holocaust really had no idea what was happening to them, and had no way of knowing what to do about it, causing so many millions of people to be slaughtered.  In “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, Lennie and George, two great companions, are going from job to job looking for work to achieve their dream of owning their own ranch.  There is a problem, however.  Lennie is severely mentally disabled and has a very hard time making decisions on his own, so George is meant to mind Lennie and care for him.  However, one day George is not around and Lennie accidentally kills a young woman and ends up being killed himself.  In “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, a young man, is unhappy with his marriage and has fallen in love with his wife’s cousin.  Ethan does not know how to approach Zeena, his wife, or Mattie, his wife’s cousin, about the situation.  Throughout the novella, Ethan considers his options, but not knowing how to talk to others about the situation, he thinks about divorcing Zeena or just running away with Mattie.  Ethan and Mattie are worked up into such a state that they decide to kill themselves.  They are unsuccessful, however.  Ethan ends up permanently injured and Mattie is paralyzed.  Now Ethan is stuck in his horribly miserable life because of his bad decisions.  Without the perfect balance of instinctive and deliberate decision making, it could cost you and others around you their life or will to life.

    1. christophert3

      I must say that I truly agree with everything you said because it is all true. I must also say that you worded everything so nicely. Nice job, Tyler!

  6. sofiad1

    This quote means that all decision making has two factors: the reason and the instinctive reaction. This relates to all three novellas in different ways. It relates to Of Mice And Men because George had to kill Lenny. His Reason had gotten the better of him. His Instinct was to run away with Lenny and keep him happy. But he knew that he had to kill him quickly and painlessly, or he would be given a horrendous death. This quote connects to Night because Elie knew he had to stay alive, and he constantly made decisions that reflected it. He used his instinct when he had to run to be inspected. He was using decision when he stopped believing in god because all the evidence he had supported there to be no god. And this quote strongly relates to Ethan Frome. In Ethan From, he is constantly moving between instinct and reason. When he and Mattie try to kill themselves, it is a clear indication that he was using his instinct, blindly the following love. Another place when we see this is when Ethan is writing his divorce letter to Zeena, but he then realizes that if he left Zeena, she couldn’t take care of herself.

  7. christophert3

    The meaning of this quote is that people, when they make decisions, should not only base it on what they think, logical decision making, they should also base it on their gut feeling. This relates to the three books, “Of Mice and Men”, “Night”, and “Ethan Frome”. First of all, in Night, Eliezer has to make many decisions, and all of them are gut feeling with some logic which comes from his fear. Some of these choices are when he has to decide whether or not to go after his dad, even if it goes against the orders of the officials. For “Of Mice and Men”, George and Lennie come to the ranch because logically, they couldn’t go back to where they had just been cause of Lennie’s IMPULSIVE actions, which were bad by the way. But the greatest decision George had to make was when he decided to kill Lennie. Logically, it was Lennie’s only way from being painfully shot in the gut by Curly. By George’s impulse it was already the only good choice, the only thing he felt he could do for Lennie to help him. Thus, this important choice was made through the use of both his feelings as well as logic. Then there is Ethan Frome. For me, the first decision in the book that comes to mind is at the very ending where Ethan decides to run into the tree with Mattie. The impulse here was strongest since he couldn’t live without Mattie. The logic came in with there being no other way that he and Mattie could be happy together. So he ran into the tree. Another part is when he kisses Mattie for the first time. This was probably his worst decision and it was entirely made up of impulse. There is also the time when he decided it was for the best that he didn’t run away with Mattie which was made up of entirely logic and didn’t really make everyone happy but was still a good decision.

    1. avae1

      I completely agree with you, and I also thought that in “Of Mice and Men” George made more of the deliberate decisions and Lennie made more impulsive decisions.

      1. francescaa

        I agree with your comment Ava. Throughout the whole book of “Of Mice and Men” George has more reason behind his thinking in compare to Lennie.

  8. avae1

    This quotation by Malcolm Gladwell was displayed greatly and played an important role in the three novellas we have read so far. Many crucial decision were made, regarding love, life and death, and all were considered with instinct and deliberation, or lack thereof. In “Night,” by Elie Wiesel, while a prisoner in a concentration camp, Wiesel himself made the choice of not ending his own life. He thought about it, and his first instinct was to get himself out of this situation while he had the chance, escaping through death. However, with more thought he knew that he would never intentionally leave his father, and would try his hardest to survive. In “of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck, Lennie murdered Curly’s wife. He did not mean to hurt her, but his instinct took over his actions since his own deliberation failed him. This decision did not result in success, considering he was shot because of it. Similar to “Ethan Frome,” by Edith Wharton, Mattie and Ethan did both agree to kill themselves, but not at first. Originally, Ethan was hesitant, and believed Mattie’s idea was crazy. He was probably thinking of Zeena and her sickness in this moment, and thought of how she would react. However, Ethan’s instinct got the best of him, probably persuaded by his love for Mattie. They failed to commit suicide, but it was still a poor decision. Without a proper balance of both instinct and deliberation successful decisions can not be made.

  9. maddy

    One may find this quotation applicable to the decisions Ethan made in “Ethan Frome.” The predominance of Ethan’s poor decisions were instinctive rather than deliberate. An example of this is when Ethan impetuously attempted committing suicide with Mattie. His decision to do so was not influenced by logic, but rather misguided vehemence. Additionally, Mattie had not mentioned the idea of committing suicide together until moments prior to the sledding accident. This is an occurrence that depicts that when Ethan’s decisions were merely instinctive and had no deliberation, the results were usually undesirable, and potentially disastrous.

    I also found this quotation applicable to the decisions made by George in “Of Mice and Men.” His decisions were generally structured and prudent. However, because George was organized rather than instinctive, he tended to focus on the future rather than the present. This is evident when George left Lennie unattended in the barn. During this time, Lennie managed to unintentionally kill a puppy as well as Curley’s wife. Lennie was George’s responsibility, yet George did not contemplate the consequences of leaving him alone for just a bit, even though he knew the dangers Lennie was capable of. Although George had warned Lennie about talking to Curley’s wife and playing with the puppies, did George truly think that these warnings would have prevented Lennie from being troublesome? Accompanying Lennie or having it seen to that he was not alone should have been instinctive of George, and it is probable that if he had done so, it would have prevented the deaths of Lennie, Curley’s wife, and the puppy.

    In “Night”, Elie had to rely solely on his instincts in order to survive. There was a great possibility of death at any moment. Living in such a constant state of uncertainty did not allow for deliberation when it came to making decisions, so Elie had to be instinctive. He could not be deliberate when it came to decisions such as contemplating whether or not to stay in the infirmary or evacuate along with the others, for the outcome of doing so was unpredictable.

  10. arihantp1

    The quote “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking,” relates to all the books we have read. In “Night,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “Ethan Frome” the characters have all made rash or thoughtful decisions. Some of the decisions they made were necessary for their survival. In “Night” Eli had gone through the holocaust, and all the decisions he made were mandatory for his survival. He relied on pure instinct instead of making a thoughtful decision due to the lack of time. In “Of Mice and Men,” Lennie is unable to make instinctive decisions due to his mental impairments, so when he accidentally kills Curley’s wife it was due to his unable to make proper decisions. George however spends a lot of time thinking about killing Lennie. In “Ethan Frome,” Ethan is unable to make decisions, so instead he makes the rash decision of committing suicide with Mattie. All these novellas are perfect examples of the quote above.

  11. briannag3

    This quote makes me think of Lennie and George in “Of Mice And Men.” The instinctive thinking part would be Lennie of course. With his symbolism to animals he relies mostly on instincts and doesn’t think things through. George on the other hand is more educated and before saying or doing something has to ponder about it before he makes a decision. In my opinion George killing Lennie was a long time coming. He always talked about leaving him and even if he was only joking he had it on his mind a lot. They talked about how they got kicked out of their job in Weed and how Lennie screwed it up for them because he doesn’t think.

    Elie mostly relied on his instincts in “Night.” His instincts told him to eat and he ate. If Elie was using more thought out decisions he might’ve fasted while he was in the concentration camp and could’ve died. Even though his instincts are shown more throughout the novel we do see more practical decision making from time to time. Like his decision to stay with his father. When his father was sick he could’ve left him alone to die but instead decided that he would stay with him and care for him until he died.

    In “Ethan Frome” we see a lot of instinctive decision making by Ethan. He never thinks of the consequences of his actions and doesn’t think things through. When him and Mattie planned to commit suicide he never thought about what could happen. First off, this suicide isn’t guaranteed. They want to kill themselves but don’t think about the better chance that they would survive with severe injuries. Also, he doesn’t think about Zeena. Throughout this entire novel he just thinks for himself and doesn’t acknowledge anyone else.

  12. margauxc

    Balance is a common motif in classic literature, though primarily, a desire for balance is present rather than balance itself. In Edith Wharton’s novella “Ethan Frome”, the title character thirsts for a balance of temper in his life- a balance between sound and silence. During his mother’s illness, Ethan recalls hearing Zenobia’s voice for the first time, with the narrator stating, “After the mortal silence of his long imprisonment Zeena’s volubility was music to his ears.” (p. 44) Then, Zeena “too fell silent”- and her stillness left Ethan desperate enough to crave Mattie’s melody and vitality. With Ethan, his actions were instinctive- for him to chase after the music again. After his mother’s voice was silenced, Ethan immediately sought after Zenobia based purely on the fact that she was able to soothe the deafening silence. After Zeena’s silence though, Ethan rushed into a relationship yet again, with Mattie Silver- his raw passion inadvertent when it truly mattered . Ethan, not once, deliberately thought out his foolish and rash actions.

    The novel “Night” shares Elie Wiesel’s account of the concentration camps during the Holocaust, and periodically focuses on the necessity of both instinctive and deliberate thinking. Eliezer, the narrator, must rely on both to survive the horrors he faces, yet before the Jewish community of Sighet even began to know of the importance of balancing both- there was a heavy dependency on instinctive thinking at first. Fear is said to be primitive, a natural phenomena which guides us to make decisions that we believe to be the right. At first, Eliezer’s mentor, Moishe the Beadle, tries to warn the others in his community of the approaching war that threatens to drastically disrupt their lives. Eliezer comments, “He spoke of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things. Others said he had gone mad.” (p. 07) Through practicing ignorance and dismissing Moishe’s warning- the Jews of Sighet are instinctively/unknowingly letting fear cloud their intuition and are not deliberately considering the vile monstrosities which await them.

    In John Steinbeck’s literary classic, “Of Mice and Men”, the misadventures of George Milton and Lennie Small come to an end after George spares Lennie from a fate far worse than necessary. In the novella, George’s deliberation lead him to conclude that the only rational thing to do was to have Lennie die at the hands of someone he trusts, rather than to have him die at the hands of a merciless Curley. Whether or not killing Lennie was a “successful decision” is definitely debatable, but one thing is (somewhat) certain: George deliberately thought out the consequences and risks of ignoring Lennie’s desperation and chose to act on his basic instincts. (It can be assumed that George’s basic instincts are to avoid having Lennie feel pain- and so putting Small out of his pain ends George’s obligation to protect him).

  13. caias1

    This quote relates to the difference between logic and impulse. In Night, Elie had an impulse to run into the electric fence out of fear of the furnaces. However, he used logic when he lied about his age to stay with his father. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie’s mental disability caused him to constantly make rash, impulsive decisions, such as when he tried to quiet Curley’s wife by shaking her, which just killed her. George, on the other hand, was the more logical thinker, like when he gave Lennie a quick, merciless death. In Ethan Frome, Mattie was shown to be extremely rash and impulsive. One example is when she took down Zenna’s pickle dish. She knew how much Zeena treasured it, but she betrayed her trust anyway to make the table look prettier. Another example is her decision to commit suicide. She never considered the possibility that they might survive in extreme pain, she just got caught up in the heat of the moment. In all fairness, however, Ethan was also very impulsive in agreeing to her demand. He is at fault as much as Mattie is.

  14. francescaa

    The quote “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking,” is related to all three novels we have read. In all three books there has been a great deal of thinking involved, especially since we know what the characters are thinking. In Of Mice and Men it was clear who thought instinctively. Lennie didn’t seem to have a filter; whatever he thought he said out loud. This, in many cases, got him caught up in a lot of trouble with people who didn’t understand that Lennie was disabled. On the other hand, George was more careful and deliberate in their thinking. This is partially due to the fact that he was basically Lennie’s babysitter. Not only did he have to make decisions for himself, but he had to make decisions for Lennie as well. You can also connect this quote by Malcolm Gladwell to Night. For Elie Wiesel, a great deal of his thinking while in the concentration camp was instinctive and primitive. When Elie woke up in the morning he didn’t know if it would be his last day on earth, so he basically had to do whatever he could do to stay alive. No one knew what obstacle the guards would spring up on them, so decisions were made on the spot. For example, Elie didn’t get to deliberate whether he wanted to run in the middle of the night to another concentration camp. He had to decided within a moments notice, and in some cases, his decisions would determine life and death. As you can see, this quote by Malcolm Gladwell has a connection to other books we have read.

  15. alexo

    In Night, the Jews at the start of the story are too optimistic about the reach of the Germans.
    In Of Mice And Men, Lennie and Candy are too optimistic about the state of Lennie and what was to come in their future.
    In Ethan Frome, Ethan is too guided by blind love, without thought of right or wrong, and how he may affect others.

    These are all related, as all of these characters rely less on logic and more of what they want to see happen, what they desire. I believe that we should see how this kind of thinking worked out for the main characters, and see that it might not be the most helpful kind. We can take these books as examples for how we should live our own lives, and how we should think about our own actions. We should guide ourselves by what makes sense, based off of what makes sense.

  16. ivanl

    This quote relates to all three of these novels in some sort of way. In “Night”, these quote is present in this novella because of the way Elie Wiesel makes his choices. He does not always act instinctively, making sometimes stubborn decisions to stay with his dad like at the infirmary. This is also relatable in “Of Mice and Men” when George is forced to kill Lennie out of what is best for him. This was an instinctual choice, George really not wanting to kill Lennie. He knows that if he doesn’t do it however, he’ll be tortured to death by the incoming lynch party. Finally, this is relatable in “Ethan Frome” with Ethan wanting to kill himself if he could not be with Mattie. This was also an instinctual decision, Ethan just wanting to escape Zeena and not thinking clearly out of his desperate love for Mattie.

  17. marinas1

    The underlying idea of decision making and the thought that is put into making those decisions is one that can be applied to the past three novellas we have read. In “Night”, Elie and his surrounding neighbors choose to remain ignorant of what is happening around them, a decision that evidently leads to their downfall. In “Of Mice and Men”, George chooses to kill Lennie instead of giving him a life of endless loneliness and misery, while in Edith Wharton’s novella, “Ethan Frome”, Ethan chooses suicide instead of being parted from Mattie, a settlement that most definitely does not end happily.

    Elie Wiesel’s “Night” begins in the small town of Sighet, Transylvania. There, Elie, his family, and everyone else living in the surrounding area live a blissful life away from many major cities, one filled with temples to pray in and other aspects of Judaism. All of a sudden, the Jewish foreigners are expelled out of Sighet. Days later, a foreigner named Moishe, manages to get back to Sigher, where he warns everyone of the death that is approaching. He exclaims, “‘You cannot understand. I was saved miraculously. I succeeded and coming back. Where did I get my strength? I wanted to return to Sighet to describe to you my death so that you might ready yourselves while there is still time.'” (p.10). Clearly, Moishe is trying to warn people of the danger that looms. However, no one listens to him. Elie Wiesel writes, “But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted the pity, that he was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad.” The fact that the people of Sighet chose to remain ignorant is a fact I can not seem to grasp. Moishe does not seem like the joking type, and there is absolutely no reason that anyone would describe such danger for no apparent reason. Writing such a horrible warning off as merely a man having gone mad is completely absurd, and this decision eventually leads to the people of this town getting themselves put into concentration camps, where they are not ready for the kind of endurance they will have to acquire to survive. When Elie first enters Auschwitz, someone talks back one of the officers. In reply, the officer says, “‘You should have hanged yourselves rather than come here. Didn’t you know what was in store for you here at Auschwitz? You didn’t know? In 1944?'” (p.26) Obviously, the people of Sighet had not known “what was in store”, for they had been choosing to remain ignorant of what was happening outside the realm of their small world. This is portrayed when Elie Wiesel writes, “How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps… Soon I would wake with a start, my heart pounding, and find that I was back in the room of my childhood, with my books…” (p.32). Evidently, when starting his first concentration camp, he can not even grasp the reality of what is going on, for his little world of Sighet had chosen not to heed Moishe’s advice and either try to seek safety or prepare for a world filled with horror.

    While reading the end of John Steinbeck’s critically acclaimed “Of Mice and Men”, one is truly stuck by the outcome. Lennie ends up killing Curley’s wife, and his fate is decided by the other men of the ranch. There are two ways to go; kill Lennie, or give him a life in prison. George, being Lennie’s caretaker, chooses to kill Lennie. After George pulls the trigger, he “…sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away.” (p.107). In this quotation, George’s actions clearly depict the horror and disgust he feels at killing Lennie. This leads the reader to think that he is doubting his decision of killing Lennie, which is understandable, for it was a “spur of the moment” decision. For George, the choice definitely had not required much forethought, for he had wanted his friend to die a peaceful death, rather than suffer a life in prison. George just wanted to let Lennie escape a life of misery. Although his choice may have been seen in his eyes correct at the time, it makes one wonder, “If George had not been nearly as impulsive, could he have found a way to have Lennie live a good life, even if he was to be in prison?”

    In the conclusion of “Ethan Frome”, Ethan Frome decides to follow Mattie’s orders and kill himself with Mattie at his side. This is due to all the melancholy feelings he is having, for Mattie is being sent away. He questions, “‘What’s the good of either of us going anywheres without the other one now?’” (p.104) Evidently, he does not want to be separated from Mattie. Without Mattie, he would have to return to Zeena, where he would constantly live a dreary existence. In that moment, it seems to him that the only way to escape his awful life is death. Although in that moment it may have been true, Ethan does not for one moment stop to think about the outcomes. Previously, he had not run away with Mattie, because he felt bad for Zeena. However, if he died with Mattie, Zeena would still be extremely saddened. Obviously, the idea of suicide is an extremely impulsive decision, one he agrees to after Mattie childishly brings it up. Before trying to crash the sled into the elm tree, Ethan had also not thought of what would happen if he did not end up dying. This, consequently, led to the restart of an endless cycle, one where both Mattie and him end up not dying, and Mattie ends up having spinal disease, which makes her completely immobile. If he had not so impulsively decided to attempt a suicide, maybe he could have had a happier life in the end.

    In a way, all three of these novellas are linked, and most certainly when pertaining to decision making. In all of them, a group of people or someone in particular make choices based on the means of escaping reality, or a life they do not want to be a part of.

  18. faithw

    Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. — Malcolm Gladwell

    I agree with this quote by Malcolm Gladwell. To be successful, individuals can not merely act or react the same way all the time. There are times when it is important to think things out and plan, but at other times it may be better to make decisions instinctively. Striking a balance in life is what makes one truly successful.

    In the novellas the class has read, different characters have dealt with decision-making in various ways. Eliezer, in Night, displays both deliberate and instinctive thinking. Eliezer intentionally lies about his age so as not to be separated from his father. Even though he may have been better off without his sick father, Eliezer never acted on his thoughts of leaving his father behind. Eliezer instinctively fought to keep his father alive.

    In Of Mice and Men, George acts purposefully in his repeatedly telling Lennie to let him do the talking for him. George is very deliberate in planning for a place for Lennie to escape if trouble occurs. Yet, he also acts instinctively when he feels the need to protect Lennie. Out of loyalty, love, and compassion, he chooses to end Lennie’s life. Lennie on the other hand, only acts instinctively and does not have the capacity to reason effectively.

    In the novella, Ethan Frome, Ethan’s downfall is that he follows his emotions instead of thinking things through. He impulsively falls in love with Mattie and doesn’t see any consequences to his feelings. As a result, Ethan was destined for a tragic end and was never able to secure happiness.

  19. cameronl3

    Although many characters of all the stories we read had personality traits that were all special and made who they are, well, who they are! As for Ellie, we see a young boy who must live in a world that most boy’s his age do not experience. As for Lennie, we see a man who is just having fun, living life as it goes. Next we have Ethan Frome, a quiet man who maybe for the first time in his life, found true love. Although we read about these positive traits, all three characters lack the variety in their mindsets which lead to further consequences that affect them later in the story. For example, Ellie, would be very “instinctive,” for he would not know if he would survive the next day, and quickly lost the rest of the hope he had. For Lennie, due to his mental disorder, he was also instinctive, due to the fact he struggled to comprehend really anything at all. In addition, Lenie had George to do all of the deliberate thinking for him. Finally, Ethan was also a very indecisive, instinctive individual, that troubled over the fact whether or not he will leave his wife Zeena for his true love Mattie, or stay with Zeena and end his hopes to stay with Mattie. It was a decision that he could not make, and ended up affecting him his whole life. As you can see, all of these characters from the three short novellas we read have characteristics that although help them in a way, are not enough to keep them away from possible harm.

  20. alekhya

    “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell The idea of instinctive and deliberate thinking occurs in all three novellas; “Ethan Frome”, “Of Mice and Men”, and “Night”.

    In “Night” we can explore the differences between instinctive and deliberate thinking by observing the behaviors of the Holocaust prisoners. As they fight with each other for survival they do things they might not have done if they had thought it through. One such occurrence that shows a change in thinking was when the prisoners were sitting in train wagons while spectators threw bread into the wagons to watch the starving men fight for their survival. “‘Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me…You’re killing your father…I have bread…for you too…for you too…'”(101) While Ellie is sitting in a wagon he witnesses a young man kill his own father for a piece of bread. This young man had not been thinking but had acted on instinct. Ellie Wiesel on the other hand had thought about what might happen to him if he lunged for the bread and remained seated. As a result he did not loose his life. “A piece fell into our wagon. I decided not to move. Anyways, knew that I would not be strong enough to fight off dozens of violent men!”(101) Because of his deliberate thinking Ellie Wiesel survived where as ‘little Meir’ killed his father, having fallen prey to his own instincts.

    In “Of Mice and Men”, we can explore the idea of instinctive vs deliberate decision making by comparing Lennie and George. As a result of being mentally disabled Lenie cannot think his actions through, cannot consider the consequences. For example when he is petting the hair of Curley’s wife, he tightens his grip on instinct and begins to panic, not quite thinking deliberately and as a result kills the innocent woman. “She jerked her head sideways, and Lennie’s finger’s closed on her hair and hung on. ‘Let go,’ she cried. ‘You let go!’ Lennie was in a panic.” (93) George on the other hand is a very deliberate thinker and is very thoughtful when making decisions. “And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought he muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.”(106) In these few seconds George was thinking deeply and made the decision to kill his friend himslf to spare him the pain the other men would give him. Unlike Lennie’s impulsive behavior, George is a lot more thoughtful when making decisions; to ensure they are the best ones.

    In “Ethan Frome” our main character seems to be a very deliberate thinker. When he at first considers running away with Mattie he is impulsive but after some thorough thinking he ends up not acting. “His impulses were still near the surface……But with Mattie depending on him the case was different. And what of Zeena’s fate?” (83) When he is making this very important decision at first he lets his instincts cloud him but then he takes some time to think about Zeena and makes, perhaps, a better decision.

  21. laurena2

    This quote relates to the novels “Night”, “Of Mice And Men”, and “Ethan Frome.” In all three of these novels, the characters make sudden and rash decisions that lead to pain or death. In “Night,” Elie never had a chance to make thoughtful decisions, he always had to follow the guards’ rules. This resulted in Elie getting physically and mentally hurt. Physically, the guards made Elie go through unbearable situations that were inhumane. These included sleeping in the snow and having to eat almost nothing in a day. Emotionally, Elie was torn apart from his mother and sister, which made him extremely fearful of losing his father.

    In the novel “Of Mice And Men,” George killed Lennie without thinking. At the moment, it seemed as if the only way for Lennie to escape a slow and painful death was to go through a fast and painless one. George killed Lennie, which had consequences that could not be reversed. This left George without a partner which would emotionally affect him in the future.

    In “Ethan Frome,” Mattie and Ethan decided to commit suicide in order to be with each other. Without fulling thinking about the consequences or what would happen if their plan failed, the two made a sudden, rash decision to sled into a tree. At the last second, Ethan swerved out of the way, leaving himself and Mattie emotionally and physically disabled. The two had physical health complications, however, Ethan was left without a strong relationship between Mattie and Zeena.

    In all three of the novels, the readers learn that (like Malcolm Gladwell stated) all decisions should be partially thought out and partially impulsive. Before George killed Lennie, the two balanced each other out perfectly. It is important to keep this in mind when making an important or small, everyday decision.

  22. willowm

    Both Lennie and Ethan had trouble creating the balance Malcolm Gladwell refers to, which lead to their demise. Lennie killed Curley’s wife instinctively, increasing his body count (including animals), and thus George had to kill him. Ethan acted deliberately when he decided to head into the big elm with Mattie, when he should have been more instinctive. Ordinarily, Ethan would never do something like that, and as we saw his actions did not pay off. For Lennie, his death was literal, but for Ethan his death is figurative. Mrs. Hale says at the end of Ethan Frome, “I don’t see’s there’s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard…” (pg 114) In “Night,” Ellie was forced to act instinctively, for almost every decision was a matter of life or death. Sometimes, however, he would make the wrong choice. Elie decided that he should leave the infirmary when the town was being evacuated, and if he hadn’t decided this his father may have stayed alive. We find out later that everyone who stayed in the infirmary was liberated. He needed to act instinctively and make his decision because in the concentration camp, he was not often given time to mull things over.

  23. George

    I think one of the only contstants between Night, Of Mice and Men, and Ethan Frome is misery. In Night the Ellie had to deal with and work through the hardships of the Nazi work camps. In OMM ee have the hardship of living in the middle of the depression as well as George’s miserybof lossing Lennie. We can most definitely see that in Ethan Frome Ethan is in a constant state of misery. He jas to stay with Zenna even though he loves Mattie. When they crash into the tree instead of dieing they just get hurt. He now has to walk around witb a limp.
    Anothr theme in all the books is love. In Noght Ellie loves his father. In OMM Lennie loves George and vise versa. In EthannFrome we can see that Ethan loves Mattie and later in the novella we see the feelings are mutual

  24. Kathrynr

    I think that the quote communicates to all of the books we read and our lives in general. The quote talks about how we need to make good decisions and truly think about what we’re doing before we do it. However it also says that we should trust ourselves. I think that this is very important in our lives. We have to know when the situation calls for us to act and when to think.

    In Of Mice and Men Lennie and George are very different. George is the part of the quote that thinks before he acts and Lennie is the part that is more instinctive and does what he feels. This goes along with when we were talking about if Lennie is like a human child, a man, or if he acts like an animal. This was how Lennie died. He got in trouble because he panicked and didn’t know what to do with Curley’s wife. Then after much deliberation and internal struggle George decided that he had to kill Lennie. This was not what George wanted to do but he knew that he had to.

    This quote also communicates to Night in the way that throughout the book Elie Wiesel was trying survive. To survive in the camps and the ghetto’s Wiesel had to think rationally and plan out what he was going to do, but he also had to act on instinct. For instance when all of the prisoners are hungry they are standing around the huge pot of soup. They all know that they can not take from the pot beacause they will be killed. One man runs out to get the soup. He was acting on instinct. He got shot. In this moment Wiesel stayed alive because he carefully thought out what might happen to him or his father if either of them tried too get the soup.

    In Ethan Frome Ethan has a tough life full of tough decisions. He has decide who he loves. Throughout the book he acts after he has thought. He does not leave Zeena. Even thought he may want to Ethan knows that he will never be able to leave Zeena. Ethan has a ,moral obligation towards Zeena. At the end however, Ethan’s love and passion for Mattie takes over. He refuses to let her go so he goes to take her to the train station. Ethan lets his feelings get to him and then goes along with Mattie’s plan and they try to commit suicide. I think that Ethan did not make the best decisions. he mostly thought out his life with little to no impulse, but then he made one big mistake.

  25. eshap

    “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell arouses an interesting idea about how decisions should be made with both careful and spontaneous thoughts. In the three novellas we have just read, there are clear examples of when the characters decisions were not entirely logical based on their thoughts. Some characters are more careful with their decisions, considering much before acting out, while other characters act more on impulse. In Night, Elie Wiesel decided to leave the hospital on an injured foot. Throughout Of Mice and Men, George makes many decisions regarding himself and Lennie. In Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, Ethan is faced with the decision of leaving with Mattie or staying with Zeena.

    Elie Wiesel grew up in a small town known as Sighet. Along with his neighbors and family, he lived his life undisturbed by the ongoing war, thinking it wouldn’t affect him. However, when the Jews are forced to leave, Elie ends up in a concentration camp, somewhere he did not expect to be. He manages to survive, however, is faced with one problem after another. During the winter, Elie’s foot begins to swell, causing him to go to the hospital. The Jewish doctor says that a surgery needs to be performed, and made sure Elie was alright. He reassured Elie that he would be able to walk again, although he would have to wait two weeks. “But two days after my operation, rumors swept through the camp that the battlefront had suddenly drawn nearer.” (page 80) Soon, it was confirmed that the Red Army would come, and the SS officers prepared the Jews to move to another location. Those in the hospital would stay. Elie had to chose for himself and his father whether or not they should leave, knowing they shouldn’t be separated. He does consider registering his father as either a patient or medic,  but ultimately decides on walking to a new location. Elie should have gone with his first instinct, which was to stay. After they left, the Russians had liberated all the Jews in the infirmary. Sometimes it is better to listen to an instinctive thought after considering the other option.

    After reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, it can be seen that George makes all the decisions for Lennie as well as himself. George tells Lennie several times not to talk when they arrive at the ranch to allow a greater chance of making a good impression. At the ranch, George speaks for Lennie, not mentioning anything that would ruin their chances of getting the job. Should he have allowed Lennie to speak, there was no controlling what he said. George thought about what he would say that would impress the boss. Unlike George, Lennie made his decisions on instinct. He never considered the consequences or another option, but acted out as he wanted in that situation. For example, when Lennie was with Curley’s wife, he wasn’t able to think about his actions. Curley’s wife told Lennie to feel her hair, which was a mistake. Once Lennie felt something soft, he wouldn’t let go. “She jerked her head sideways, and Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on.” (page 91) When in these situations, Lennie has no self control. He instinctively does what he thinks is right, without giving much considerations to what he should do. George knows this, which is why he carefully makes the decisions for both of them.

    Ethan Frome, a novella much different compared to the others, has Ethan torn between two women. Zeena, his wife, has been married to him for seven years, yet he doesn’t love her. He married her for companionship. Once his mother past away, he would have no one left to stay with. As a result, he asked Zeena to stay. Mattie contrasts greatly when compared to Zeena. She is kind, happy, and considerate of her surroundings. Ethan fell in love with her when he was bringing her home from the village. However, he cannot stay with the woman he loves due to his marriage. Zeena keeps him from being with Mattie for too long, and longs to be rid of her. One day, she decides to visit yet another doctor, and the advice she came home with was to fire Mattie and get a hired girl. Ethan was in despair. On one hand, he could leave Zeena a letter stating where he had gone, but on the other hand, he would have no way to start a life in the West. He goes back and forth between these two options, and not being able to decide, falls asleep. Ethan realized that there were no job opportunities for him, and left the letter with no purpose. His decision was one made with deliberative thinking rather than instinct. Should he have taken an instant action, Ethan would be on his way with Mattie. However, he chooses to stay after looking over a newspaper article, and envisioning Zeena’s fate.

    Throughout all of the novellas, the characters are faced with decisions one after another. The way they handle these decisions varies from deliberative and instinctive thinking. Therefore, the idea of decision making can be applied to all three novella.

  26. Rebecca F

    This quote rings true in all three novellas we read. In Night, when rumors of the Nazi invasion reached the town, the Jews chose not to rnu. They deliberated and decided that the Germans were nothing to be feared. They ignored their instincts that told them that the Germans were nothing good, and their decision cost them.
    In Of Mice and Men, Lennie was incapable of higher levels of thought and comprehension. He would see a soft dress and go to pet it, without regard of what the owner of the dress might think. He gave in to his instinct without thinking. He made decisions without a balance of both instinctive and deliberative thinking, which in the end, cost him his life.
    In Ethan Frome, Ethan loved Mattie. He loved her so deeply, simply the thought of her gave him reason to smile. He thinks through his options, but in the end rashly decides to commit suicide with Mattie. Although it may have seemed to be a good idea, it was not completely through, and ended with Ethan and Mattie being crippled.

  27. adam

    This quote relates to all three novellas read so far. This means that to make a good decision, one must think deeply from all sides of the situation and think of all the scenarios. One must see all views and determine which choice or action would be best for them. In all of the novellas, there is a weakness in decisions and thinking. There are many both good and bad choices made throughout the novellas. for example, in “Night”, this is probably the novella with the best decision making. Ellie was faced with many tough situations such as sacrificing food, and awful sights but he decided not to lose hope. When he was debating on taking his own life, he didn’t because he knew to trust his instinct and keep living because he can get out if he keeps hope. In OMM, Lennie and George both have some debatable choices. George always noted how much he didn’t want to have Lennie, and did not nurture him as he could have. Lennie, always was petting anything in sight which never had a good result. This was poor decision making, that neither of them learned from. Finally, in Ethan Frome, He thinks Mattie is his solution and he needs her, and when he is married to Zeena he all of a sudden needs to commit suicide. This is not a good choice and more of an easy outlet from problems that easily could be solved. This quote relates to all 3 books.


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