Shingeki no Kyojin, Chapter 51: The End is Worth the Means…Right?

The newest chapter of Attack on Titan leaves off where the last one ended, with the aftermath of the great battle that occurred.  Mikasa is taken away with broken ribs and Erwin, with one less appendage, is attended to.  And while physical clean-up is occurring, humanity’s military leaders are also cleaning up behind the scenes, figuring out what all the discoveries point to.

The most important of these revelations is uncovered through poor Connie.  His experience in his hometown, combined with other evidence, suggests that the titans (perhaps all titans) were once human.  While the manga readers have supposed this from early on in the series, this disclosure is apparently new to Levi, Erwin, and Hanji.

shingeki no kyojin manga
Capture by matsuoka-rinrin (Tumblr)

All three react with pain and discomfort.  The moody Levi, in a rare state, vocalizes the inference that he’s become a master murderer.  Erwin seems half-crazed, and more out of character than any of the rest.  And Hanji…well, Hanji’s reaction might be most interesting of all.

While she seems hurt by this reveal, Hanji doesn’t react as strongly as the rest.  The manga moves to the scene in Connie’s town, where Hanji, in apparently a kind gesture, order stakes taken out of the titan that was once Connie’s mom.  And perhaps she’s calmest about all of this because Hanji has known what the titans were all along.  At least that’s what I assume (to all those more fantaci readers of the manga, please chime in below).

The manga impresses Hanji upon as a genius.  As such, she must have come to this conclusion long ago, and if not, she must have strongly suspected it all along.  And yet, she continues to experiment with any titans she can get her hands on and she participates in their killings.  She has decided that the titans are no longer at all the humans they once were, or that the salvation of humankind is worth exterminating these former/quasi-humans, or some sort of combination of these.  Hanji has made her choice – her methods, and those of the rest of the squad, are worth the means.

Erwin, too, as the commander, must have suspected this.  It must pain him to realize he’s sent so many men and women to death to attack and kill those that were once men and women as well.  We already know that he long ago considered the cost of leading his troops to slaughter (sometimes assuredly), and he, as with Hanji, decided the end was worth the means.

Both Hanji and Erwin (I’ll remove Levi from this conversation as one who doesn’t seem to have considered the possibility of titans as formerly humans) may be correct.  It certainly seems that extreme methods are necessary (if their methods can even be called “extreme”) to save humankind.  But the question of whether it’s okay to achieve the end we desire through less than desirable means isn’t only a question for this manga, or even a philosophical exercise – it’d directly applicable for us.

When we pursue a goal, whether at work or in school or some other setting (sometimes as leaders), we have to decide whether what we’ll accomplish is worth the means we’ll expend toward it.  For some, this becomes a very serious question, especially those working in situations where a lot of money and a lot of resources are on the line.  Should we sacrifice our values to meet a significant goal, even if that end is something undeniably worthy?

Scripture is clear about what God feels about this.  Above all, He wants our heart.  He doesn’t care about the sacrifice, or if you will, the end-product.  What he desires of us is our devotion and attention, and to do what is just, right, and merciful, even when temptation to do otherwise is strong.

The process matters, for it shows the heart.  And if your heart’s not right, you could just become the enemy you never wished to be.

6 thoughts on “Shingeki no Kyojin, Chapter 51: The End is Worth the Means…Right?

  1. I agree, Hanji had her theory probably the longest, along with Erwin. I think Erwin was about to lose, thus he smiled, but I don’t think he smiled because he was happy to hear that the titans are just humans transformed, but the fact that he wasn’t “crazy”, as far we know he’s been saying “who’s our enemy?” to Eren trying to find answers.

    That said, who “toyed” with Erwin enough to force him to do the group? I think, what we all look forward is for a good explanation of why has it been kept secret for years. If the legion has been killing humans (transformed into titans) for decades, why do Reiner and co. keeps quiet about the truth? I think that for me has been bugging me for a while since 5 chapters ago.

    The truth that’s been shrouded for too long. At this stage, it’d be easy for Eren to just go back his home and get his father’s documents.

    My bad, it’s just that SnK is pulling a Lost on us. Too many questions, and barely any answers to rely on. It’s just a mystery after mystery.

    > Should we sacrifice our values to meet a significant goal, even if that end is something undeniably worthy?

    I think we do this on a weekly/monthly basis 🙂 depending on the issue. Values are important, but surviving in this world outweighs those values, we end up doing things we don’t like, or decisions that goes against your values for the sake of others, or the sake of your family. (selling drugs, prostitution, etc. Of course these are a bit… extreme)

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you commented, as one who’s been following the manga. I watched the series and then continued on in the manga where the anime left off, so I haven’t had this build-up of suspense like other snk fans.

      As for your answer to that question, I think we live by what we truly believe – what comes of our actions reflects what’s important to us more than words do. Except in extreme cases, we can live the way we want – it’s just a matter of asking, what is it that we want?

      Thanks again for the comments!

      1. I took my chances and decided to not watch the anime. 🙂 when it comes to stories like SnK I prefer to use the original work–on a less related note, too bad I can’t say that same for light novels. I wish they were more popular in the U.S so they could bring more, sadly they keep cancelling the translations. I would totally love to get Sunday Without God, Golden Time, The Twelve Kingdoms, Full Metal Panic!, etc. 🙁

        I think the suspense may vary… for me? It’s killing me not being able to know the answers. The mangaka is just too stingy with us :[

        1. Oh gosh, yes, I wish we would get more light novels here!

          I can see how the manga would be very suspenseful, especially with a series that updates monthly. I felt similarly about Claymore for the longest time.

  2. That’s an interesting question you ask about whether to sacrifice our values for an undeniably worthy end. To phrase to solution like Aristotle, one should remember that most ends are intermediate ends with the final end being happiness. I would say that most of the time sacrificing our values detracts from the final end, because the greatest part of happiness lies in having a good conscience and virtue.

    Curiously, the greatest enemy we have in attaining happiness is ourselves: our own weakness, malice, sloth, ignorance, etc.

  3. I didn’t realize it until now but maybe you are right in that Hanji and Erwin probably had a hunch about the origin of titans. This hunch must have solidified when they found out Eren can become a titan and that there are many titan-human spies in the military.

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