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EN: Fredric Brown – The Weapon

Personal

Dr. James Graham

Harry Graham

Mr. Niemand

Content

Dr. James Graham is a key scientist of a project; as a by-product, they’re developing an ultimate weapon. Graham has a mentally arrested son (an idiot).

One evening, a stranger, Mr. Niemand, visits him. While Niemand starts talking about the danger potential of James’ project (“is likely to end the human race’s chance for survival”), the boy comes in, asking his father for reading to him. James refuses but introduces the boy to Niemand, which seems to like him. Something (may be that nearness) tells James to get away with Niemand. However, the discussion continues, but James blocks, so Niemand is asking him for a drink. While he’s in the kitchen, Niemand gives Harry a “gift”. Later, Niemand goes away so James checks what the little gift really is. “Only a madman would give a loaded revolver to an idiot”.

Discussion

Idiot vs. Mad (your interpretation may differ...)

An idiot is a human being, which isn’t able to combine the small pieces he learned to an own view of what’s going on. This leads to incompetence and inability to imagine complex things and think about consequences of specific actions (no causality).

A madman can do all that, but he has another (not normal) kind of estimation. He thinks just in another way. Madmen often have another view of causality what leads to another point of moral, too.

Why the loaded revolver?

Niemand tries to make Graham realize what’s really going on in the world and how mad and naïve he is. Graham doesn’t feel responsible for what people may do with knowledge he’s giving to them. Niemand switches the roles, so Graham realizes himself how mad it is to give an ultimate (more or less) weapon. Maybe Brown wants to show us the same. Knowledge is force, but just if only you have it. If not you but others have that force (in this story it’s Harry), you better prepare your funeral service