Choose a character from a classic piece of fiction and write a short essay on why that person fascinates you.
Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most interesting characters I have experienced in reading fiction. In the book, Atticus Finch is the father of the protagonist, and is a well-respected Alabama lawyer in the midst of a controversial trial. Specifically, he is representing an African American defendant in a highly publicized criminal trial in the 1930s South. Atticus Finch agrees to defend the defendant despite the harsh public backlash he and his children suffer as a result. During the trial, Atticus is actually successful in proving the defendant’s innocence, yet a guilty verdict is returned against the defendant all the same. Although this book presents a truly revolting miscarriage of justice, it is the character of Atticus Finch that still makes this book such a fascinating and inspirational read. Atticus Finch displays the moral fortitude that every human being should strive to exhibit. His support and effort to save his client never wavers in the face of public scorn or an imbalanced justice system. This fictional character represents an archetype that all lawyers and figures of justice should emulate. His ideals and actions transcend the racist and shortsighted popular views of the era; he is a fictional representation of a powerful moral pillar. Atticus is also a widower, and raises his children by himself. The Finch family faces public disdain and adversity as a result of Atticus’ trial, but that does not stop him from pursuing justice and imparting these lessons to his children. His clear conceptions of right and wrong are imparted to his children, Scout and Jem, as shown through their actions and thoughts throughout the novel. It is one of the best lessons a parent can teach their child. Despite being a fictional character, Atticus Finch shows the meaning of true character and perseverance, and provides a stellar example of how one should follow their moral compass.
Much of the recent presidential election focused on returning America to a former state of glory, with promises of radical change and renewed economic prosperity. Please select an event or events in US history that you feel reflects these visions and promises being realized and discuss it in detail.
One of the most radical government efforts to restore the United States to its former state was the New Deal. Broadly put, the New Deal was created through a joint effort between Congress and then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Deal itself was a response to the Great Depression, and consisted of programs aimed at three main goals: relief, recovery and reform. FDR wanted the New Deal to create relief for those struggling with unemployment and poverty, recovery of the U.S. economy to its pre-depression status, and a reform of America’s financial organizations to avoid another depression. Despite arousing controversy, the New Deal was instrumental in helping restore America to its former status. At it’s inception in 1933, the New Deal first sought to correct the current financial crisis by enacting the Emergency Banking Act as well as the 1933 Banking Act. FDR and Congress helped to create the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which provided millions of dollars for city and state relief projects. Additionally, the administration created the Civil Works Administration, which provided funds to localities to create make-work projects in 1933 and 1934. FDR also created the National Recovery Administration, a controversial agency that sought to reduce market competition by allowing labor, industry and government to collaborate in creating codes of fair competition. Such codes helped to reduce destructive competition as well as set minimum wages, maximum hours, and minimum pricing for goods. The second part of the New Deal introduced the Wagner Act (which protected labor organization), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Social Security Act, and other programs aimed at helping migrant workers and farmers. It also created the United States Housing Authority, the Farm Security Administration and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (setting hour and wage limits for most workers in the U.S.). The WPA was a nationalized effort to return the unemployed to work by creating government projects, such as the building of hospitals, schools and roads without infringing on private enterprise. The Administration created jobs for over 8.5 million people and resulted in the construction of 125,000 public buildings, 650,000 miles of roads and highways, and the construction of other public projects such as bridges and reservations. Despite still being a topic of debate even today, the New Deal helped to create more financial security through it’s regulations, created balance between labor, industry and agriculture, brought about a more equal distribution of wealth, and helped America to survive it’s greatest financial depression without undercutting capitalism. The New Deal was truly a radical reform effort that realized many of its goals.
Society is currently driven by technology: each new innovation allows people the ability to access and share information in a variety of ways never before available to mankind. News, social interaction, and commerce are now literally at society's fingertips. Compare this age of technology with the themes and messages espoused in Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Do you think Thoreau's beliefs in simple living and progress can coexist with the modern day technological climate?
Many of the theories expressed in Walden directly conflict with the current technological age. The book itself is outwardly critical of Western Society’s increasing consumerism and materialism, as well as its shift away from nature. One of his most illustrative themes is the importance of self-reliance: not constantly needing or seeking out the affections or companionship of other people. Thoreau believed that true social and financial self-reliance was extremely important, and helped to awaken oneself spiritually. Contrasted against the modern age, Thoreau’s theory could not come across as more scathing. With the advent of social media, social interaction and connection is at the reach of one’s fingertips; society now condones somewhat of a “broadcast” of one’s ongoings and relationships with others. While Thoreau recognizes the need for human companionship, he would no doubt find that the technological impact on social interaction has only sent society further away from achieving a spiritual awakening. Another key theme in Walden is Thoreau’s emphasis on simple living. In the book, Thoreau strives to create more simplicity in his world by keeping old clothes, reducing his consumerism to the bare essentials, and complete self-reliance. In looking at the modern era through Thoreau’s perspective, it is clear that he would disagree with Western modern trends in this area. Modern technology has made it possible for people to buy or sell items with the swipe of a finger; it has opened a new channel of convenient consumerism that is utilized by the majority of society. Technology has also cushioned life, providing immediate access to many means of entertainment through television, internet and social media. Thoreau would likely state that this has sent society as a whole in the wrong direction. Attachment to phones and other devices only sets society back in an effort to achieve inner peace and enlightenment. As for technology as a whole, Thoreau believed that such technological advancements are nothing more than outward improvements on life, incapable of bringing one peace and contentment. Thoreau would likely see modern technological achievement as a step in the wrong direction. Walden’s principles of self-reliance, simple living and closeness to nature are offered as tools for transcending the despondent existence that most people undergo. It is almost certain that he would see modern technology as a hindrance on true self-understanding and peace.