X. Toole's "Million $$$ Baby" and the connection of the Weisses and the baker in Raymond Carver's "A Small, Good Thing."
The characters of Frankie Dunn and the baker both find themselves making a moral choice. For Frankie, he must choose whether to act upon Maggie's request for euthanasia. Maggie first won his respect by through her own dedication to boxing, the sport that he loves; through the rise and collapse of her career, Frankie has come to view her like a daughter. Frankie's initial hesitation in training Maggie hinged around his dislike of seeing a woman get hurt, and it is this chivalrous instinct that gnaws at him when Maggie becomes quadriplegic and suicidal. The baker also has a moral foundation for his actions: he comments working that 2/3 of his day is spent working in the bakery. He has every right to expect payment for his work but perhaps not the right to seek restitution in the manner that he does. When the baker is informed of the child's death, he is appropriately chagrinned to have made the harassing phone calls. With what little humanity he is able to salvage, the baker offers the Weiss couple food, observing that "Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this." (Carver 88). By this he acknowledges that some things in life cannot be changed, but can only be endured. Food will comfort and sustain the body, giving it the strength to continue. Frankie's choice bears a greater price: as a reformed Catholic, he understands that he damns his soul through assisting Maggie with suicide. His love for her overrides the sacrifice of his soul - and hers as well - to help her escape the suffering.
Maggie's relationship with Frankie develops from that of mentor and trainer to father figure. With the loss of her father at the age of 12, Maggie has floated without direction for most of her life until discovering boxing and, through it, Frankie Dunn. In comparison to her sycophantic relatives, Frankie is the only person who genuinely cares for Maggie. When Maggie attempts suicide by biting off her tongue, Frank realizes the extent of her anguish. She has explained to him the story of her father putting the dog out of its misery; when she lies there as tongue-less as her father became, the parallel is complete. He has taught her how to balance, how to move, even how to breathe and now she needs him to allow her to die. Frank understands her need, and, just as he was the only one who could help her to realize her dreams, he is the only one she can ask to end her pain. The roles are essentially reversed with the Weiss couple and their son. They are unable to communicate with him and can only pray for his recovery. The harassing phone calls from the baker prove to be a blessing in disguise, for it is the only distraction they have from ruminating about the status of the Scotty. When the child dies, the recognition and confrontation at the bakery proves to actually be a cathartic experience for the parents. Ann Weiss explaining how she wanted the baker dead is intriguing, both for its implication of transference, but especially because of the past tense used. Through illuminating the baker of Scotty's demise, the parents are able to release some small amount of their own pain. They are even able to empathize as the baker bares his soul by describing his own loneliness due to lack of children. While