Here’s one definition for sacrifice from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996:
…to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost, for the sake of obtaining something; to give up in favor of a higher or more imperative object or duty; to devote, with loss or suffering
So I can accept that what Bookman did was make a sacrifice. He gave up, or surrendered, his life in favor of higher duty, the life of the little girl. In doing so, he also fulfilled his highest professional ambition which was to make a big pitch. Of significance, in order for him to make that pitch he needed the stakes to be raised (and for Bookman, like many of us, I’d bet, the life of a child is pretty high stakes). This pitch wasn’t to sell some trinket. It was to save the life of the little girl. I think it’s also significant the look on Bookman’s face (and good acting) that indicates his satisfaction with his successful pitch. It’s that look that indicates to me that what he gave up, his life, is less important to him than what his “sacrifice” has gained, the life of the little girl.
I am a student of human development (my graduate degree is actually in “Human Development”). Among the theories of development that resonate highly with me is Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Erikson’s theory is that humans pass through eight stages, each stage focusing on a “conflict” illustrated by a question. The final stage is one he called “Integrity vs Despair” with the associated question being “Is it OK to Have Been Me?” or “Has my life had meaning and purpose?” The idea is that toward the end of our lives we look back and evaluate whether we’ve lived a meaningful life. If we think we have, we experience profound satisfaction and contentment. If we think we haven’t, we feel depression and despair.
Learn a little more here.
I think that look of Bookman’s as he leaves with Death is one of satisfaction and contentment. Had the little girl been taken, I think he would have experienced despair. His successful pitch provided him meaning.
“The idea is that toward the end of our lives we look back and evaluate whether we’ve lived a meaningful life. If we think we have, we experience profound satisfaction and contentment. If we think we haven’t, we feel depression and despair.”
I really like that idea and at 69 I have become aware that I try to live every day as if it may be my last – not because of fear, but because I want to like myself every day of my life now as I live it. I mostly succeed, but not always. Sometimes I disappoint myself and that has to be okay too. I am not striving for perfection just satisfaction.