Eleanor Roosevelt stated that people make their own decisions, and the reasoning behind what happens in their lives is of their own responsibility and consequence. Bert Cates, from Jerome Lawrence’s Inherit the Wind, applies directly to this statement while Stephen Kumalo of Cry the Beloved Country and Caesar of Julius Caesar do not. Stephen Kumalo and Julius Caesar’s lives were drastically influenced by the choices of others, not their own. Bertram Cates, however, made his own decisions and influenced his life individually.
In Inherit the Wind, Bert Cates illegally teaches evolution to his biology class. As a citizen of Hillsboro, TN, he must have known that teaching evolution was unlawful as well as the consequences that would follow. Cates, however, is a man who wants to fully educate his students and open them up to different ideas and perspectives. For this reason, he teaches evolution anyway and is prosecuted and fined $100 (Lawrence, . Inherit the Wind. Pg 103) for it. It’s a consequence of his choice to teach such a controversial subject and because of it his life is greatly impacted.
In Julius Caesar, Julius’ fate was definitely not of his own choice. Brutus, Cassius, Cinna, Decius, and Casca, a group of people Caesar trusted, murder him. Caesar had done nothing wrong. He’s a bit cocky and self centered at times, perhaps, but he has done nothing harmful to the well-being of others. The lack of trust from Brutus, Cassius, Cinna, Decius, and Casca is why Caesar’s life is brought to an end. They think he’d go mad with power, so they take him out before he even has the chance to prove them right or wrong.
In reality, he would have done what is right for his people, and that is apparent in his will. “To every Roman citizen he gives, to every several man, seventy-five drachmas. ”, Marc Antony reads off of Caesar’s will, “Moreover, he hath left you all his walks, private arbors, and new-planted orchards, on his side Tiber. He hath left them to you and to your heirs forever. ” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. Pg. 133) Caesar has no control over stopping the situation because he doesn’t even know it’s going to happen.
He hasn’t done anything to deserve his murder, it’s not of his own consequence. He was killed out of the mistrust from others. Stephen Kumalo of Cry the Beloved Country is tossed around, put through so much pain, and none of it is of his doing. He may have made the decision to look for his son and sister to protect his family, but isn’t it a man’s instinct to care for the people who are closest to him? Stephen’s son made the decision to take the wrong path, live the life of a thief, and eventually kill another person.
Stephen’s sister made the decision to sell alcohol, sleep around, and not care for her son. All of these bad choices were made by other people, yet Stephen was still strongly affected by them. Eleanor Roosevelt says that people are responsible for what happens in their lives, but Stephen couldn’t control Absalom being sentenced to death, Gertrude leaving, or his brother screwing him over. This is because he didn’t have the money, power, and most importantly, the control over their decisions.
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