The Cider House Rules is full of intense moral conflict. Conflict that still is a highly debated issue in society today, abortion. The two main characters Dr. Larch and Homer Wells are constantly struggling with the morals involving abortion. Dr. Larch, being prochoice, upon seeing all the unwanted children he delivers at his orphanage, try’s to shine the light on the goodness of prochoice. Homer, an orphan himself, makes a home at the orphanage and is almost a son figure to Dr. Larch. After learning a lot about delivering babies and helping at the orphanage Dr. Larch wants to teach him his practice of performing abortion properly.
This causes the ethical debate between the two. Although, Homer finally transforms to see the positives of abortions near the end of the novel. Homer was very uncomfortable with abortions but never thought Dr. Larch was a bad man. Homer’s character completely contradicts my belief that your environment shapes your morals. I was proven wrong by Homer’s feelings towards abortion. Homer believed it is wrong and that every child deserves a chance to live. You can sense that he is uncomfortable about abortion. Being raised in this environment where abortions are daily occurrence you would think Homer wouldn’t be opposed to it. The most powerful side of Homer is shown when he actually performs his first abortion on Rose Rose. He saw that this poor, innocent, tortured girl needed his help. And for the first time he didn’t care what he was doing, he believed it was right. Rose Rose, who was sexually abused by her father, was impregnated with her fathers child. This gruesome situation led Homer to become a strong moral person. He realized that bringing that child into the world would be remorseful and strange. As bad as abortion is portrayed some women need an escape. Homer realizes that is wasn’t about the ethical issue, it was really about helping someone in need, and he had the skill to do that.
When Homer is away at the orchard going about his business and he makes a call to the orphanage to talk to Larch he is informed he is dead. This devastates him. “He knew what Larch would have told him: that his happiness was not the point or that it wasn’t as important as his usefulness” (
576). I believe this sentence perfectly describes Larch’s moral compass. Larch wasn’t concerned with the acceptance of society but what he could do for people with his skills. “Wilbur Larch would have told him there was no such thing as playing a little God: when you were willing to play God-at all- you played a lot”(Irving 582). This is insightful line describes how Dr. Larch lived. He knew he has the ultimate power and he has the skill to help these woman, and he did. He played God, good or bad. He had the power and used it to help. “After the first one, thought Homer Wells, this might get easier. Because he knew now that he couldn’t play God in the worst sense: if he could operate on Rose Rose, how could he refuse to help a stranger? How could he refuse anyone? Only a god makes that kind of decision. I’ll just give them what they want, he thought. An orphan or an abortion” ( Irving 583). Homer now suddenly evolves in Larchs mind set. He realizes what impact he can have on women and he simply does his job. John Irving does a brillant job showing how these characters deal with morality by testing them in some of the toughest of situations. Irving