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Socrates Fortlow is black, American men who spent most of his life in Indiana prison state. He was arrested and prosecuted because he committed violent crimes. Socrates was a furious man when he left prison. He felt bitter about his life and everybody around him. He decided to reconstruct his life by shifting from his rural maternal home to the city. He had a number of reasons when he moved from his rural home to the city. The major reason, however, one was that he preferred to stay in a place where few people knew him. In his book always outnumbered, always outgunned, the author summarizes his life in fourteen stories. Socrates Fortlow recognizes the importance of studying history and literature. He seems to believe that it is through the study of history and literature that people get to understand where they are coming from and where they are headed. Socrates outlined many issues in the society including friendship, manhood, responsibility, violence and racism. This essay gives an in-depth look of how and why Socrates values the study of history and literature in relation to Ann Deavere or Al Manhein.
Socrates considers the study of history and literature as a fundamental subject in the quest to understand humanity. Socrates blames what he terms as the biggest human misunderstanding to lack of information. According to him, history and literature are fundamental subjects to human beings. Without them, people would not understand each other. People would not be able to appreciate each because they do not know each other in the first place. The story used an example of Socrates when he left prison after serving a jail term of 27 years. He narrates that he was deeply angered and that he would hardly appreciate anything. Socrates hated everything that was around at that time. He set to go to the city in order to rebuild his life in a quiet place where few people knew him.
Socrates values the study of literature and history through his realization and the ability to rebuild his life. It is difficult to understand how a 58 year old convict can walk out of prison and rebuilt as Socrates did. Socrates realized that it was essential for an individual to study history or literature because of the way he was treated in prison. His stay in prison taught him a great deal, as a black, American man, Socrates led a life full of discrimination and hatred inside the correctional facility. While in prison, he also learned that in as much as convicts were under roof, they were deeply a part in their ideals and beliefs. Prison was like a divided house to him where inmates aligned to each other based on their ethnicity.
Looking the achievements of Ann Deavere smith, from a humble beginning to a professor and accomplished actor. It is only worth noting that as Walter Mosley puts it in his book, no one should underestimate an individual’s potential. Ann Deavere is one of the most accomplished actors and academicians in the world. During her early life, Ann struggled to make it her life. Just like Socrates Fortlow, she had a rough childhood, but because she was determined to make it in life, she made it far eventually. This demonstrates what Socrates values in history. Socrates believes that with knowledge about the past and understanding how other people lived in the society.
Another value that can be derived from the study of history and literature according to the story is redemption. Socrates admits openly that he was a criminal and was punished for his crimes. He states that prison was not deterrent enough for him; he admits that while, in prison, he committed more crimes than before he was convicted. Correctional facilities as they are called are supposed to reform criminals. However, because of lack of information and failure to learn from the past, prisons have become places for breeding criminals. Socrates acknowledges that the legal system only punished him and failed to rehabilitate him.
This is the reason why he came out of prison bitter; he had no hope and the strength to live in the society comfortable. His life changed when he went to the bookstore and had a brief chat to Oscar Minette. It seems most of Socrates problem came because he did not what was right. Throughout his life, Socrates had no one to teach him what was right and what was wrong. What is surprising is that the entire correctional system could not discern his problem. It is against this backdrop that Socrates recognizes the value of history and literature in a person’s life.
Without understanding ones past, it would be difficult for anyone to sort out the issues affecting an individual. Such issues are common in the current society because most people in position of power are ignorant. Those tasked with the responsibilities of assisting others have no sufficient knowledge concerning the people they need to assist. The society is always recycling old ideas, yet it is obvious that it is not possible to address current problems using old tactics.
The story history outnumbered, always outgunned as it is, portrays an intriguing aspect in the society. Socrates seem inclined to the fact that most problems in the society come as a result of poor judgment. The world’s greatest problems like racial discrimination, corruption, and violence are occasioned by lack of understanding of the societies roots. If history and literature and were valued critically in the society, then the marvelous works of Ann Deavere could not have gone unappreciated.
Ann Deavere has been at the forefront of promoting art through various capacities. Even thought the act cum professor has several accolades, most people do not recognize her work. She is a humble woman whose contribution in acting would live a lasting mark in America. History and literature need to be enforced in the society so that people can come to their realization and recognize the contribution of people like Ann Deavere.
Socrates personal experience with prison life and discrimination made him realize what he was missing in his life. He suffered for over 27 years in prison and even after he was set free. All this misery was following him because he did not understand himself. Socrates did not understand what was expedient for him and, therefore; he did not know anything else in life a part from committing crimes. Even, though, he was jailed for long periods, Sacrotes never had the chance to reform. Instead, he was immersed into the life of crime in prison and even committed more crimes while inside prison. The study of history and literature can help human beings understand each other and avoid many social problems. With intimate knowledge regarding ones background, cases of racialism could not be happening in the society. Chances of politicians engaging in corruption would be limited, and the society would be balanced. Without history and literature, many issues will continue to afflict human beings. The current systems in place would continue to fail hence little would be achieved in the society. The story of Socrates demonstrates how this world can be a suitable place only if people knew themselves appropriately.