Overcoming Obstacles

A study of Life
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on
January 15, 1929 and died on April 4,
1968. As an African American man in an
intolerant society, King decided to lead
the civil rights movement in the hopes of
finding equality for all. He directed the
march for freedom in Washington, D.C.,
where 250,000 people demonstrated. At
this demonstration, he gave his famous “I
Have a Dream” speech. Despite being
arrested 20 times, he received honorary
degrees and a Nobel Peace prize. He
used the prize money to further the civil
rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr.
was assassinated on his hotel balcony
while trying to help striking garbage
workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
Stanton is considered to be one of the
earliest women’s rights activists in the
United States. After being denied
entrance to an anti-slavery because of
her gender, she drafted the “Declaration
of Sentiments” which called for equal
rights for women—more specifically, the
right to vote. Ms. Stanton gave speeches
across the country as she worked towards
her goal. She died on October 26, 1902
at the age of 87.
The Nineteenth Amendment was proposed
in 1915 to allow women to vote.
It finally passed on August 18, 1920.
Walter Lee Younger Jr. aspired to be a
wealthy business man. Hindered by the
oppressive time period where much of the
culture believed African Americans to be
second-class citizens in America, Younger
devised a plan to buy a liquor store with
his late father’s insurance money. The
money, however, was stolen, and Walter
was left with a broken dream. He nearly
allows himself to accept the racism he
faces in exchange for money. In the end,
he decides that family is more important
than money, and racism must be faced. He
leads his family in a decision to move into
an all-white neighborhood despite the
certain prejudice.
Lena only wishes for her family to be happy.
She has seen hardship in that she has grown
up with the lingering effects of slavery. She
recognizes the prejudice her family faces
merely because of their skin color. Her
husband has died; her son is greedy; and
her daughter cannot seem to find her
identity. In order to help her family
overcome their own obstacles, she buys a
house in a part of town where no other
African American family lives. Through a
tragic event, the money she had set aside
for the house is lost, and Lena gives up on
her dream of helping her family through
home-ownership. This dream is only rescued
through her son eventually leading the
family to move into the house.
Age the age of 23, Lauren Scruggs
walked into a plane’s propeller. She
suffered a traumatic brain injury, the loss
of an eye, and a severed left hand. With
the help of rehabilitation and prosthetics,
she is working towards getting her life
back. She is currently working to regain
her strength and has completely stopped
using pain medication. She also says that
she that she has gotten a deeper
understanding and connection with her
Chris McCandless grew up in El Segundo,
California. In 1990, Chris graduated from
Emory University. After graduation, he
disappeared. He left no forwarding address
and sought to discover life through simplicity.
He burned all of his money and identification,
and he took on the name Alexander
Supertramp. He traveled the country with the
goal of living in Alaska surrounded by nature.
Many say his rebellion was caused by his
parents’ lifestyles (they were never married,
but lied as if they were and seemed to put
value in wealth and ‘things’.) Chris desired to
live simply and honestly. His travels eventually
took him to Alaska where he lived the simply
life he so wanted. However, Chris died while in
the wilderness due to a combination of
starvation and poisoning. He was found by
hunters 19 days after he died. His final
message was scrawled out saying “I have had
a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and
May God Bless All!”
Oscar Pistorius is a South African athlete
that competed in the London Olympics. At
birth, he was diagnosed with fibulas. At only
11 months old, Pistorius’ legs were
amputated just below the knees. With
prosthetics, he badly wanted to compete on
the world’s largest stage for an athlete—the
Olympics. However, many felt that Pistorius
had an advantage because of his bionic
legs; thus, he was banned from competing.
Through legal advise, he proved that he his
prosthetics gave him no advantage over
other runners. Just three weeks before the
2012 Olympics, Pistorius qualified for the
team. Though he did not medal, many say
that his ability to compete is more inspiration
than any medal could provide.
Living in New York in 1922, Jay Gatsby
has built an empire. He owns the largest
home, throws the best parties, and is
socially connected to everyone who is
important. He has created this realm from
a poor boy known as Jay Gatz. His
motivation: Daisy. She met him as a poor
soldier. Despite their connection, Daisy
married a wealthy man. It is Gatsby’s
great hope that becoming wealthy will
allow him to steal Daisy away. Despite
almost winning her back, Gatsby is left
dead after being left by Daisy and
framed for murder by Daisy’s husband.
Mr. George Wilson owns a garage in The
Valley of the Ashes—a place between East
and West Egg. He works hard and sets his
own hours. Readers can hear sense of pride
in what George feels he has accomplished.
However, he soon learns his wife is cheating
on him. In an effort to save his marriage, he
locks his wife in a room and plans to close
the shop so they can move somewhere away
from the deception. Myrtle, his wife, gets
free and runs towards a car she believes her
lover is driving. This is a mistake as someone
else is driving, and Myrtle is killed. George
eventually believes that Jay Gatsby killed
his wife. Therefore, he goes to Gatsby’s
house and shoots him. Then, he shoots
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 21,
1960, Jeannette Walls experienced many
hardships. Her parents, Rex and Rose
Mary, were neglectful. Her father—a
drunk—lost every job he had. Her mother
refused to keep a job. Jeannette and her
siblings were forced to find food any way
they could. Eventually, Jeannette, with the
help of her sister, moved to New York
where she graduated from Barnard
College in 1984. She is a former MSNBC
correspondent and the author of her
memoir—The Glass Castle.
Hester Prynne committed adultery with
Reverend Dimmesdale. She had a child—
Pearl. Though she refused to reveal the
father, she raised the child to the best of
her ability and worked hard to provide
for them both. She is treated harshly by
many but never retaliates. Despite her
original indiscretion, Hester became one
of the most respected people in the town
due to her kind heart and strong work
John Proctor, a farmer in a Puritan village,
has committed adultery. Despite his sin, he
loves his wife and is trying to prove
himself to her again. Because of his
mistress, much of the town is enveloped in
a witch hunt. He struggles to expose his
mistress—Abigail—for what she is: a liar.
However, while attempting to expose her,
Proctor’s wife lies in an effort to save his
life. John briefly thinks he will lie in order
to save his life, but eventually decides that
honor and integrity is worth more. He dies
knowing that he did not betray himself.
His death, coupled with several others,
eventually leads the town into stopping
the maddening hunt for witches.
Reverend Hale comes to Salem because
there is the possibility that someone is a
witch. He feels himself the utmost authority
on witchcraft and conducts his
investigation with an air of extreme
confidence. Throughout the trials, he comes
to realize that the primary witnesses are
lying. Though he tries to stop the
proceedings, many in Salem die despite
their innocence.