The date is 1958, location Cyprus.The air is filled with the aroma of gun-powder and bloodshed, the grounds covered with bullet-shells and deceased bodies. The on-going struggle for liberation from British domination continues for every cypriot living in Cyprus at around this time. This story Gregory by Panos Ionnides is the direct result of Ionnides’ first-hand experience as a soldier during the war when he and a former cypriot, Guerilla, were guarding a british soldier. The soldier was executed in restitution for a violent act played on by the British. Also, the late 1950’s was a time of the well known stockholm syndome, the “phenomenon in which hostages and their keepers develop bonds despite their adversary positions”. This idea played a major role in Gregory and will be looked at in greater depth as I explore the true meaning of honor and how it played an equal role in this story. At this time, I pose the question, “what is honor ?”.
Honor is the feeling or expression of admiration, respect or esteem. To whom did the Executioner’s honor belong? To Headquarters? To Gregory? Well, this changed, not only in direction but also in intensity. At first, the Executioner mentioned his first experiences of killing the enemy-soldiers headquarters had handed down to him. He described them as “delicate assignments”. The first time, he said he threw up. The second, he was ill for days, the third, drank a bottle of alcohol, the fourth, a few glasses of beer, the 5th he joked about it, and finally the sixth, remorse, for it was Gregory fe killed. As you can see, he was slowly desensitized to his job. That is, he comfortably adapted to it and as he eliminated each of the five soldiers before Gregory, the intensity of his honor towards headquarters had increased. We can assume this based on the fact that he carried out headquarter’s task of executing despite how gruesome he may have founded it to be. Also, we can’t forget that this was a war. The executioner posessed the typical signs of honor and discipline a normal soldier would have towards his/her higher chief. After all, if there was the slightest bit of betrayl sensed on the behalf of headquarter’s, the executioner would have been one his own “delicate assignments”.
Throughout the story, the executioner made it quite obvious that he cared a great deal for Gregory. He not only shared food out of the same bowl and drank out of the same tin as him but he also listened to him explain his life stories and could easily relate to them. This is evidenced by the quote “Eh, back home this guy is facing the same problems as us”. Many times, the direction of the executioner’s honor switched towards Gregory but it was unfortunate that Gregory couldn’t pick it up. The executioner had sacrifised his own honor towards headquarters by giving Gregory two chances to escape. The first, when the executioner and his partner left Gregory all by himself to read, and the second, when he was sent to do their laundry. It was quite obvious that the executioner became emotionally attatched to Gregory as well. “Thank god for the person who made him”, he said. “That scorpion could have put me through hell if it wasn’t for that Gregory”. It was almost as if he loved Gregory for saving his life (I know I would). It was clear that the executioner was affected by the stockholm syndrome. He developed a bond towards Gregory. One of respect, admiration and esteem. The stockholm syndrome influenced the honor the executioner had for Gregory and affected his ability to do his job correctly. So who did the executioner honor?
The answer is headquarters. In the end, he killed Gregory. He had to, it was his job. He HONORED his job, he honored headquarters. Afterall, it was either Gregory’s life or his own. Logically during a war, the task at-hand is to stay alive. Obviously the executioner didn’t want to die so he sought-through his job. But it was interesting how after he killed Gregory, the intensity of his honor towards Gregory “sky-rocketed”. That is, he deliberately didn’t complete his given task of hanging Gregory (to make an example of him) but he ordered his fellow partners to dig a grave for him. He honored him the most he could during a war.
Personally, i’ve seen friendships come and go much like this one. I’ve also been in friendships that involved betrayl. However not to the extent where someone lost their life but of a smaller consequence such as an insult or temporary disclosure. I think it’s safe to say that a friendship wouldn’t be complete without the slightest bit of betrayl. This doesn’t mean to say that I didn’t honor my friend or vice-versa, he/she doesn’t honor me because it was clear that the was lots of honor involved. Mucht too intense or personal to even describe here in this response. The point is, I think everyone can relate to this story by some means. Whether it be through honor or betrayl, this story is “the perfect stencil” of an honorable friendship.