Barney, written by Will Stanton is a short story that takes the form of the journal. It highlights the idea that freedom and the creation of intelligence only lead to evil and hate. “The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.” Forces which are reflected by Will Stanton in this story are power, freedom and hate which all are causes of Barney’s immoral nature.
Cogitative intelligence has a major roll in the formation of this journal and the concluding entry may describe the flaw in trying to “create” this intelligence. It seems as though we abuse, misuse or misinterpret the ethics of how we choose to use things. It becomes blurry to us sometimes, that our unethical actions to create something good, trick us into formulating something evil. Each time we get the opportunity to experience freedom, it seems as though we waste it on evil. If we once awaken freedom, we will too awaken hate. Barney had not experienced freedom until he was given the opportunity to run around the lab- after Tayloe had been fired. During this time Barney had discovered his newly awakened intellectual curiosity. On September 8th, Barney was once again sent into confinement and it was described by the narrator that “he hates it”. If Barney had not had the chance to experience freedom, he would not have discovered his capacity to hate.
The ending presented to me a feeling of bewilderment, however I have now recognized that it was bound to conclude in this way based on the foreshadowing of the plot twist. I was shocked at the fact that something so weak and small had the ability to overthrow someone who was perceived to have so much authority and knowledge. The final entry was written by Barney, in a way that would have required a great deal of intellect for a rodent. Clearly the “ratt” has acquired much intelligence and uses this freedom in an evil way. September 11th, the narrator- which is now Barney- describes to any possible readers of the journal that “Poor Barney is now dead an soon I shell be the same”. He goes on to say “I will caste myself into the see” and that his “laste” will is that the ones who read this letter will bring young “ratts” and shall leave them as a memorial to Barney. It is evident that Will Stanton’s writing of the unethical ways of using Barney as a test to “create” intelligence has backfired on the scientist. Barney has tricked the scientist into allowing his own death, while he gets what he had been planning for- to live undisturbed, with an abundance of females to serve his “desires”. This shows how we as a society try so hard to create something unnatural that in the midst of its creation, it begins to exceed our intelligence and can unknowingly take control of us or begin to trick us (turing test).
A detail in the September 11th entry which entices me and supports my conclusion that attempting to create intelligence can only lead to evil is Barney’s use of the word “caste”. Caste is a form of social stratification, it is a word applied to human and non-human populations. It perhaps is a indirect hint to us as readers that Barney has had a plan to establish authority and has now reached his goal. There is an abundance of foreshadowing in the story that lead to the end result of the plot. For example, in the August 30th entry we are presented the first clue through Tayloe’s obscure firing. Perhaps the carelessness or clumsiness of the ‘murder attempt’ shows that Barney attempted to frame Tayloe because he would have ruined his plans to gain authority. Another obvious hint to the end plot is in the September 2nd entry when the scientist describes that Barney had been “dragging books from the shelves and reading them over page by page”. It is evident in this that the rat had been quickly acquiring intelligence, with the purpose to gain freedom and authority. Within the entry on September 9th , Barney drops the key into the well. Perhaps in the certainty that the scientist would jump in to retrieve them- so that his wish to be free and powerful could be granted. “Knowledge is power. Power to do evil. . . or power to do good.” With Barneys power it is evident that he has an intention to do evil because he has experienced freedom, and therefore has the capacity to hate.