A Question About Compassion


In Phantom of the Opera,  Christine’s compassion for the Phantom leads to transformation:  the Phantom’s heart softens and he lets Raoul and Christine go free, he himself is set free from his bitterness and hatred, and he escapes the mob after physically transforming himself to elude capture.

Think about other stories you have read or seen in which a character  shows compassion for another.  How did that compassionate act change a character or move the story in a new direction?  Name the story or character and share your observations.

Another way to think about the question is to turn it around:  can you think about a story in which the withholding of compassion has turned a character or a story in a different direction from what it might have otherwise gone?

Can these questions apply to nonfiction as well as to fiction?  You may answer with a nonfiction example if you prefer.

Write a comment in order to respond to the question, or respond by elaborating on another student’s comment.


Image credit: Phantom of the Opera. Digital image. The Phantom of the Opera Official Website. Cameron Mackintosh, Ltd., 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.

90 thoughts on “A Question About Compassion

  1. In “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins, Mags shows compassion to Annie and takes her place in the Quarter Quell so that she wouldn’t have to die. Also, since Finnick loves Annie and she knows Finnick very well, she sacrifices her life for them to be together.

  2. We’ve put a post up on our blog about Texas, but other than a couple of references from the Hana Montana Movie we didn’t know very much at all, so anything that you could add that would help our students would be fantastic. We’re going to google map it in class this morning and have a look at some facts. Anything that you could add would be awesome! Let us know when you’ve posted.
    Mr Webb and Room One, Auroa Primary School, Taranaki, New Zealand.
    ps would be keen to Skype depending on the time difference. Can you email Mr Webb at mwebb@auroa.school.nz with your Skype details.

  3. Mrs Kriese
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment to our class in New Zealand. We are very excited to hear from you and our class is online for the first time this year.

    I am going to get my students to have a brainstorming session this morning about Texas and the USA to see what they know and I will do a post to collate the information. I will also get an explanation done of Cricket as we have some students in the class who are very keen sports people. Yes we are looking forward to the challenge as well. Thank you so much and we will be in touch shortly.
    Mr Webb and Room One, Auroa Primary School, Taranaki, New Zealand.

    • Hooray! This is very exciting. Our 2nd period class wrote the message to you, and they will be very happy to have a response so quickly!

      As you know, the first challenge involves sharing what we like best about our home, so one of the things our 3rd period class is doing is writing a list of favorite things about Austin. It will include some slides to show you some of the sights around our city.

      We’ll put a map in our room that shows New Zealand. Many students were asking about your location and time zone as compared with ours!

  4. In The Hunger Games Katniss show peeta compassion when he is dying, and gets him sponsors that give him the medicine that he needs to survive. If Katniss hadn’t shown Peeta compassion he wouldn’t have had the medicine, and he would have died and he wouldn’t have been able to help Katniss survive in the end, and without Katniss there wouldn’t be a good story.

  5. In the Hunger Games, Katniss shows compassion for Peeta by using an arrow to shoot Cato, who was strangling Peeta, and saved Peeta’s life.

  6. In the book Divergent, by Veronica Roth, Four starts off as a Duantless leader who keeps to himself and doesn’t have any friends or anyone he cares about, but as the story continues Tris, the main character shows him compassion and he opens up to her and tells her about himself and all of his secrets because he knows that he has finally found someone he can trust. He and Tris fall in love and throughout the rest of the series they continue to show compassion for eachother.

  7. In Naughts and Crosses, a book by Malorie Blackman, the setting is basically the civil rights movement, but backwards, with the whites segregated, and the blacks, Crosses, in power. Sephy, a Cross, begins to feel compassion for the Naughts and later falls in love with one. In the end, sadly, the person that she loved was murdered. But Sephy still was fighting for equal rights because of her compassion on everyone.

  8. i helped my cat with her sickness this week in real life. I bundled her up in a towel and fed her medicine from a bottle

  9. In the movie ‘The Secret of Moonacre’, Maria Maryweather moves to her uncle’s house after her parents death. She soon finds herself trapped in an ancient feud between her family and rival clan.
    After that, she discovers she is the only person who can stop the curse that was brought upon the family and rival clan hundreds of years ago. The only way she can stop destruction and conflagration brought on to Moonacre, is an act of kindness and compassion. Maria sacrifices her life for compassion, prosperity and peace to be brought back to her family and the rival clan.

  10. In the book Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, Nix’s parents are killed by Charlie Pink-Eye. Nix’s friend shows compassion for Nix by taking her in and caring for her. He becomes her father figure and teaches life lessons.

  11. In the book The Apothecary, one of Janie’s best friends has a father who is a Soviet spy, who is forced to kill one of his friends, an apothecary who holds many secrets to alchemy, as his wife and daughter are being held hostage by the Soviet government, who will kill them if he helps him. Out of compassion, Janie and her friends stage a fake execution, and the news of it is transmitted to the Soviets, who later free his wife and daughter.

  12. In the movie “Anchorman 2”, Veronica, Ron’s ex-wife, shows compassion for Ron while he is blind. This helps Ron become a better man and realizes that he should change for the better. In return, Ron shows compassion for Veronica and his son and becomes closer to his family.

  13. In The Vampire Diaries, Damon begins to feel compassion for Elena, and tries to change his violent behavior in order to make her see that he can be good if he chooses to. This turns Damon from the antagonist of the story to a protagonist.

  14. In the book Divergent by Veronica Roth, Four starts out as a quiet, Dauntless instructor that wants nothing to do with anyone. Then as Tris, the main character, continually shows Four compassion he opens up to her and tells her things he’s never told anyone else. They eventually become a couple and continue to show compassion and PROTECTION for each other.

  15. In the Lion King, Simba showed compassion and love for Nala and saved her from Scar. Just as in Beauty and the Beast, Belle showed compassion for the Beast and trusted him.

  16. In A Christmas Carol Scrooge is a miser who is despised of by almost everyone. At the end of the story Scrooge shows compassion for everyone around him, and he becomes known as one of the kindest people in his town.

  17. In Rick Riordan’s “The Last Olyimpian” , Clarisse feels compassion to Selena when they find out Beckendorf died. Clarisse transformed into a nice, caring friend, which doesn’t happen often. She comforts Selena and fights in the war only for her.

  18. In “The Grinch” the Grinch’s heart literally grows in size when he learns compassion from the Whos of Whoville. He learns the true spirit of Christmas and finally becomes kind. He saves the sleigh and brings back Christmas!

  19. In Doctor Who, the Doctor and Amy show Vincent Van Gogh compassion and bring him to an art museum in the future to show him that his art was actually enjoyed and appreciated.

  20. In ” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows “, Mrs.Malfoy— while she is still a death eater— shows compassion with Harry and lies that Harry is dead so Voldemort won’t kill him as if he was still alive; all because Harry told her that Draco was safe. That is compassion because she literally saved his life.

  21. In Shrek, Shrek “rescues” the princess who hates ogres. Eventually over time, Shrek shows compassion for the princess. After awhile the princess finds to love Shrek and they get married. Thereby changing her opinion on ogres.

  22. In ” The Beauty and the Beast” when Belle shows compassion to the Beast, he literally transforms.
    Talk about parallel themes.

  23. In Divergent by Veronica Roth, a girl named Tris fell hopelessly in love with a isolated and mean man named Tobias. She transformed him into a softer and gentler man. Tris and Tobias soon turned out perfect for each other. Tris showed enough compassion to a cold and unfeeling man to transform him to a warm man.

  24. In the Dragon Heir, Madison Moss was filled with hex magic designed to kill her boyfriend Seth. She feels compassionate for him so she tries to stay away from him so he doesn’t get hurt. If she hadn’t of stayed away, she might’ve killed Seth by accident. That would of completely changed the story entirely.

  25. The book Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was a book about a family that went tough the horrors of the Nazis. The depth of detail and what the author had written when they only had so much time to be able to pack their things and go right that minute shows how realistic she had made the book. The traveled in trains that had soot and trash all over it and they had no food or water. One person even died on the train. I think that the family showed so. I think the family’s compassion for each other showed how much they cared for them. They ran to be with each other. They almost got themselves killed to be together. This is what compassion is.

  26. In ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy starts out as a cold, unfeeling, prejudiced pig. He feels that all women are the same, and has high expectations until he meets Elizabeth. Elizabeth shows Mr. Darcy that women are good by showing him compassion later in the story, and they even fall in love. She “bewitched him, body and soul”, and he transformed for the better.

    • I love this example. Yes, it is compassionate of Elizabeth to forgive Darcy’s horrid treatment of her and to understand why he keeps himself so aloof from others after the past injury done him and his sister. Darcy himself shows great compassion for the plight of the Bennet family in the wake of Lydia’s behavior.

  27. In The Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King, Sam shows compassion for Frodo even though Frodo made him leave. Sam knew that Frodo couldn’t make it to the top of Mount Doom alone, so he went and ended up saving Frodo’s life.

  28. In Gravity, Matt feels compassion for Ryan. When Ryan tells Matt that she lost her daughter, Matt fells bad for her. He later sacrifices himself for her. That shows his compassion for Ryan.

  29. In Doctor Who the Doctor feels compassion for Rose when he has to say goodbye to her, so he takes the copy of himself that he made and gave it to Rose.

    • Compassion AND love, I think.

      This storyline of Doctor Who left my daughter sobbing–yes, sobbing–for hours when she first watched “Doomsday” and its resolution.

  30. Just to nerd out here.

    In The Hobbit, Desolation of Smaug, Tauriel feels compassion for the dwarf Kili that will be detained for the rest of his life in an elvish prison. She later gives up the chase for the murderous orcs to save the poisoned dwarf out of compassion again (could this be love?).

    • Will we find out in the sequel? Tolkien fans know what happens to Kili, but Tauriel is a new character…wonder how she will figure in his fate?

  31. In the story of the Little Engine That Could, the little blue engine had pity for the children in the train so he helps the broken locomotive pull or push the heavy train up the very steep hill. The train shows compassion for the children going to the circus.

  32. In the Lego movie, Lord Buieness show compassion towards Emmet the special by not killing him and the whole world with Kragle. Emmet and Wildstile save the world from not being glue forever. He did this because he wanted the world to be the same and never move again.

  33. The phantom showed compassion to Raul and Christine because she showed the phantom a kiss of compassion and let them go. Just as in Harry Potter when Snape hated Harry the whole time, but when he was dying he showed compassion to Harry and his family.

    • This is an interesting connection, Clay. Snape helped Harry for the sake of his love for Lily, just as the Phantom helped Raoul for the sake of his love for Christine. Good thinking!

  34. In the book Stolen, by Lucy Chrostopher, a boy named Ty kidnaps Gemma at an airport. He takes her to the middle of the desert where he wants her to spend the rest of her life with him. Even though Gemma hates him, Ty shows compassion by rescuing her when she tries to escape and gets lost in the desert. He also saves her when she gets bitten by a poisonous snake, even though he gets arrested.

  35. In the book “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, Katniss and Peeta are tributes for the hunger games. Peeta finds Katniss in the forest and tells her to run deeper into the forest because Cato is coming, Peeta has plenty of stings and cuts on him and still tells her to run instead of him. I belive this shows compassion to Katniss because Peeta is trying to protect her so she comes out the hunger games alive. Peeta was willing to risk his life for Katniss considering Cato could come rushing through the trees at any moment with him standing there unready for an attack.

  36. In the movie Anchorman, Ron Burgandy shows compassion to Veronica. Even though Veronica doesn’t like him, he still tries. He saves her in a bear pit, and they fall in love and make the network news channel.

  37. In the movie The Hunger Games, Katniss shows compassion towards Peeta in the games so that they could get more sponsors that could save their lives. At the same time Gale Hawthorne feels compassion for Katniss.

    • I agree Eric,In the movie/book “The Hunger Games” Peeta shows compassion for Katniss and Katniss shows compassion for Peeta. I think they show compassion for each other beacuse they want the capital to not win but also beacuse they truly like each other. If one didn’t show compassion to the other than one would have been killed. Also though if one didn’t show compassion for the other than the war might not have happened.

  38. In Brother Bear, a movie, Kenai is turned into a bear after he kills a cub’s mother. He ignores the annoying cub at first, but later he feels compassion for the cub. He then saves the cub from trouble. Then Kanai has the option to turn into a human again, but he doesn’t because he cares about the cub. If Kenai didn’t feel compassion for the cub, Kanai would never have the option to turn back into a human, and the cub would probably be dead.

  39. In Les Misérables Jean Valjean show compassion to Marius in the song “Bring Him Home” by saying that he should be the one to live and wants to save him instead of himself. He did this for Cosette so that they would be happy. In the war he brings Marius underground to a hospital, after Marius got wounded badly. Valjean shows compassion by saving his life.

  40. In the book, Matched, Xander has compassion for Cassia when she tells him her goal of finding Ky. She hurts Xander when she says she loves Ky and not him. But despite his hurt, he understood and is helping her find Ky. This shows his care for her even though he knew she would never love him. It shows true compassion in a deep way.

  41. In the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader fells compassion for his son, Luke. This compassion turned the evil Darth Vader to the light side, so he could save his son. Also, in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, it is Anakin’s compassion for Padme that leads to him turning into Darth Vader.

  42. In the movie Wreck It Ralph, Ralph is shown no compassion for being “the bad guy”, he is shown to like outside, sleeping on bricks while everyone else sleep cozy inside. He is not treated with the same respect as everyone else. He tries to prove them he is more than just “the bad guy” by trying to win a medal. While he’s trying to win a medal a lot of things go wrong and he almost ruined his game, Candy Rush, and a couple of others. If someone would have shown compassion he wouldn’t have had to prove anyone wrong and almost destroy the whole Game Center.

  43. In the movie Frozen, Elsa accidentally struck her sister Ana and froze her heart. Only true love’s kiss can keep Ana from dying, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen in time. Elsa hugs Ana’s frozen body and suddenly Ana thaws. The plot for true love’s kiss changed when Elsa hugged her.

  44. In the movie My Sister’s Keeper, a girl has cancer and got diagnosed when she was little. When the parents found out, they had a child so that healthy child could give the sick child things they would need, like bone marrow, a liver, a kidney. The parents showed compassion for their sick child by having another healthy child. This is definitely not the right way to show compassion, but they did show compassion with these actions.

  45. In the movie Twilight, Edward has compassion for Bella when he saves her when she’s about to be hit by a car even if it means he might be exposed as a vampire because of his speed and strength.

  46. In the Phantom of the Opera no one ever showed the Phantom compassion, since he was a kid. When he was a kid his own mother had to give him a mask because of how ugly he is, and when he was about 12 he was in a warehouse with his only friend a clapping monkey, when a guy comes in his pen and whips him. The only person who only showed the Phantom compassion was Christine when she turned on the candles and the phantom talked to her through the mirror.

    • I agree with that. No one ever liked him so he had to turn bad, so he could get some attention from someone else besides his clapping monkey. His mother never liked him either–she loathed the Phantom.

  47. The Purge is the movie where the goverment shuts down for one night and people are allowed to do whatever crime they want to. The boy Shows compassion for a man that’s screaming outside of his house and lets him inside not knowing that someone wants to kill the man! People come to the boy’s house and and ask for the man. The boy and his family don’t let them in. If the boy wouldn’t have shown compassion for the man that was screaming outside his house, his family wouldn’t be in danger!

  48. In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Jonas begins to feel compassion for the baby Gabriel. When the baby cries and is in distress, Jonas wants to comfort him. Later, he finds out the baby is going to be killed. In order to rescue the child, he abruptly changes the careful plan that he and the Giver have made. His compassion for Gabriel changed the plot of the story: Jonas leaves weeks before he was ready, and the reader is left to wonder if he and the baby survived.

    • Another way in which the book The Giver explores compassion is with the character Rosemary, the daughter of the Giver. She felt so much compassion for the people in her memories that she couldn’t bear the pain of their experiences. She decided to end her life rather than feel those feelings. This loss of a candidate for Giver made the society more cautious in the selection process, putting more pressure on Jonas to be successful in his role.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *