“I could be wrong. The list isn’t” ~Oliver
This quote really shows how Oliver (and many of us) need(s) something concrete to hold onto. His world of understanding right and wrong has been completely turned upside down from what he went through on the island. Before the island, Oliver probably had a clear understanding of what choices were right and what were wrong (even if he didn’t follow them)…but now, having experienced “the island,” he has had to face things he never thought he would…and he has survived time and time again…not only when he shouldn’t have survived but when he didn’t necessarily want to survive. Trying to figure our right and wrong in such a horrible, tangled, survival based situation is practically impossible. So…he needs something concrete to hold on to. The list provides this. Having something concrete, tangible, accomplishable to hold on to is a key step in recovering from a trauma. The person needs a tangible, solid goal as part of their recovery process (And essay on this idea, Failure Redeemed). Not something vague like “help others” or “follow, love God” but something that you can check off. The list is exactly this for Oliver.
The thing is, someone who needs this kind of tangible goal, will accept anything they can hold onto, anything they feel is “right” and leading them down the “right” path. Anything they can “check off” and feel is working. From my experience, a person in this situation will accept pretty much anything they are handed because their life has been shattered. Anything could be true. The key is to hand them something that is actually true. So that, when they follow this goal over a long period of time, they will end up ingraining real truth as a part of their lives. In Oliver’s case however, he has to eventually face the idea that this list may not be what he is looking for…or at least his method of working through it may not be perfect.