Surely It is Not the Case

An old girlfriend introduced me to a novel that demonstrated how the protagonist had a difficult life. He was born poor and he fell into the influence of poor character, and he found a girlfriend who introduced him to her parents, who owned a small grocery. They took him in and offered to make him part of the business. He worked at the store for a time and he found himself stealing from them; he cheated on his girlfriend; he lied to her parents and to her about many things. It was difficult for me to understand how I was expected to sympathize with this character. He was simply unable to pick himself up when the opportunity arose. He had everything he needed to begin a new life, yet he continued to engage in petty theft and in a generally petty and grasping existence.

There is an effort to be made in order to do good. The most liberal and progressive of thinkers must allow that one acts, and philosophical systems and arguments about what is good ordinarily find their way into the heads of those who are already good. Is there merely punishment and rejection that remains for the rest?