In Brian Moore’s ”lies of silence” the principal character, Michael Dillon, makes four difficult moral decisions. I will now comment each one of them:
Early in the book, Michael, decides to leave his wife through many years, Moira, in advantage of his young lover, Andrea. He visits Andrea shortly after work one day, to tell her the good news. Andrea has got a job-offer from London, and Michael wants her to take that job so that they can move to London together. Michael is very certain of the choice he makes, when he’s with Andrea. It feels right. But I have a suspicion that this is just Michael living out his dream. Something that can confirm this is the part in the book when Michael tells Andrea that they should be together, always. When Andrea hears this, she asks him whether he’s sure or not, and he answers ”very sure”. Then they kiss. For Michael, everything turns Black and White, and he has got a feeling of flying away. Just like in a dream. But when Michael comes home, and Moira brings up that se thinks their marriage is going poorly, Michael has not got the guts to stand up and confirm her suspicion. He seems uncertain.
But when Moira has calmed down, and both her and Michael has gone to sleep, some IRA members breaks into their house and take both of them as hostages. Michael is a bit afraid of the masked men with guns, but Moira has no respect, she even tries to run away. The IRA members seem to be young amateurs; Michael even sees the face of one of the youngsters in the mirror – when he lifts his mask to light a cigarette. But he says nothing. During the night, the IRA-people have planted a device into Michael’s car. Michael is very sure that this is a bomb. Since he is a hotel manager, he will go untouched through the tight security control, and can easily place a car bomb outside his own hotel. The IRA-youngsters tell him that if he tells the police about the bomb, Moira will be shot. The bomb is meant to take out a special person at the hotel, but will kill many hundred people if it goes off. Michael is left with an impossible choice. Should he call the police and save a great amount of people, but have to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed Moira. Or should he stand and watch hundreds of people being killed, knowing that he’s responsible. Any normal human being would like to sink into the ground, disappearing, if left with a choice like this. But Michael managed to take action. If you look at this matter with great cynicism, Michael did the right choice calling the police and saving hundreds of lives. He was going to leave Moira anyway, and getting over her death would probably not take more than a few years. At least not with Andrea around. The responsibility of killing hundreds of people would stick with him for the rest of his life. Besides, he would not have to tell Moira about his affair with Andrea. But, he has to lay low for a while, to avoid reprisals.
But Michael gets lucky, Moira survives. But this incident has really pissed Moira off. And she starts with a solitary stride against the IRA. Without even considering reprisals or confronting Michael with it, she tells her story live on the radio. Michael thinks that this is just about the most stupid thing Moira could do at this point. Telling this story on the radio is not actually laying low and avoiding reprisals. If Moira wants to tell her story, and being killed for it afterwards, she should at least tell Michael first giving him a chance to get away. She puts both herself and Michael in danger because of this.
But Moira is not the only stupid one. Just before Michael goes to London with Andrea, he gets a visitor - Father Connolly. Father Connolly proclaims to be one of Michaels old schoolmates. Michael doesn’t remember him, but agrees to take him in for a chat. Connolly starts asking questions about the bombing. Michael notices that the Father is sweating. He seems to be a bit nervous. Suddenly, Father Connolly asks if Michael has seen the face of one of the IRA-members. Michael’s response is positive. The Father advises Michael to stay out of the IRA’s business, if he wants to live. He also asks if Michael is going to testify or not against Kev (the boy whose face Michael saw). Michael also answers positively to that question. He thanks Father Connolly for his advise, and follows him out.
Even though Michael changes his mind about testifying, he gets killed at the end of the book. The thing that he probably didn’t realize was that he never has known Father Connolly. He was actually a part of the IRA, sent out to find out how much Michael knew about Kev. Then he passed the information on, and someone higher ranked in the IRA decided that Michael was too dangerous for the IRA to be alive. If he had been more careful with whom he told his highly confidential information to, he would be left alone. But since he could not keep his mouth shut, he was killed just for seeing the face of an IRA member.
Throughout this book, Michael does many good, and difficult moral decisions. But only hours before he was clear of all threats, he revealed his secret. This was a fatal mistake, and shows how little that parts you from living a good life, or being left dead in Northern Ireland.