This is quite evident in George Orwell's short story, A Hanging (first published in 1931 and reprinted in James and Merickel, 2001), the author describes a European's experience of watching a Hindu man's execution in Burma. As he acknowledges, he has never known what it feels like to destroy a perfectly healthy human body. Throughout the story, there is no inkling that the executioners know what the prisoner is accused of or why he is being hanged. It is simply the Europeans' duty to carry out orders in the name of the law. They go about doing their duty mechanically and go for their drink after the execution is over, quite oblivious of what the dead man could have felt like in his last minutes. The executioner, in his role as the government's representative, is simply carrying out his assigned role even when personally, the act is disgusting to him.
In Things They Carried (reprinted in James and Merickel, 2001), Tim O'Brien describes the things that a group of soldiers carried with them when they went to the World War II. While most of them carried things of utter necessities, like can openers, pocket knives, wrist watches, mosquito repellants and so on, some also carried letters of their loved ones, diaries and books. None of the soldiers knew whether they would return home alive. ...Show more