Erica Kremer

Ethics and Character Decisions


One common question in any movie or story is ‘why’. Why would a character steal from someone?  What motivates someone to do the same tedious or boring job every day? Why does a person perform a selfless act on others? People are guided by ethics in their life when they are making individual decisions. Ethics are moral principles that control a person’s behavior or conduct in a particular activity. Many types of ethics govern these behaviors. Ethics help people make decisions that have an impact on their lives and that of others. 

In “Assimilation,” by E. L. Doctorow, Ramon, a struggling college student works as a dishwasher at Borislav’s restaurant. Ramon’s employer, Borislav, offers him a promotion and three thousand dollars to enter into a marriage with his niece Jelena in Russia. This decision would change Ramon’s life in a way that he never imagined as the money would help him continue with education and achieve his film making dream. Jelena wants to come and live in the United States legally to get a better life, which is why Ramon’s promotion comes with the agreement to marry her. “I don’t know. It’s selling yourself, and it’s a defilement of sacred matters.” (Danticat 2) Ramon tells his brother that taking the offer would be selling himself and going against the rule of marriage. Ramon uses virtue ethics to refuse the offer as he would not want to ruin his moral character by selling himself in order to get money.