Society today is quick to stereotype those with a quiet disposition as boring, hermits, misanthropes, inferior, self-conscious, serious, sensitive, shy, lack sociability, lack assertiveness and introversion is considered ‘second-class’ personality trait. Characters such as Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ published by Harper Lee in 1960 and an influential individual named J. K. Rowling prove these accusations to be wrong.
Without these quiet contributors, our society would not have been blessed with inventions such as the Law of Gravity, Harry Potter, Chopin’s Nocturne, Peter pan, Charlie Brown and Google. Those who are quiet usually are thinkers, reflective and concentrators. They dislike conflict, enjoy deep discussions and prefer environments that are not overstimulating. Studies conclude that we perceive talkers and those who speak first to be smart and natural leaders. Yet SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.
We also rate quick talkers as more capable and appealing than slow talkers. ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain states that “At the onset of the Culture of Personality, we were urged to develop an extroverted personality for frankly selfish reasons- as a way of outshining the crowd in a newly anonymous and competitive society. But nowadays we tend to think that becoming more extroverted not only makes us more successful but also makes us better people. ” The rise of media, movie stars, advertising industry and business has alluded us to project confidence through speech.
A person who could verbally seduce and appears dominant through their speech is considered to be more desirable than a quiet character. As a result, schooling becomes more focused on group activities and project based learning. Although Atticus was not the stereotypical brawny or loud leader, he had the most powerful form of strength which was moral courage. Atticus was more interested in listening and gathering information than asserting his opinion or dominating a conversation. This was demonstrated when “Suddenly Mayella become articulate. ‘I got somethin’ to say’, he said.
Atticus raised his head. ‘Do you want to tell us what happened? ’. But she did not hear the compassion in his invitation”. This was in contrast to Bob Ewell, who obnoxiously testified to “I saw that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella! ” and callous Mr. Gilmer who exclaimed “You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her? ” and “seemed ready to rise to the ceiling”. Although they were louder during the trial, they did not respect the witnesses, were not observant enough to follow Atticus’ line of questioning and were quick to let statements clouded by disrespect and prejudice.
Atticus was quiet, calm when under pressure, observant and articulate in presenting the evidence he deduced (including a possibility that a left-handed person beat Mayella which was most likely Bob Ewell and not Tom Robinson who had a lame left hand). He is mature enough to make an effort in changing the prejudiced views, improving social morality and harmony by treating everyone with respect without violating his principles. Atticus was also widely admired and respected by the community and when he spoke, everyone listened. Atticus was highly sensitive as an introvert to the prejudice in Maycomb.
He was the voice of reason, responsibility, wisdom and logic throughout the novel. He was one of the most powerful and influential characters as observed when he quietly and subtly passed on wisdom to Jem and Scout about society, prejudice and morality. Atticus respected and tried to understand all citizens of Maycomb, which was displayed through his statement “They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions” and “the only thing that doesn’t abide majority rule is a person’s conscience”.
His great empathy rubbed onto his children when they learnt to “climb into his skin and walk around in it. ” As a result, Jem and Scout had grown to adore and respect their role model father, this can be observed when Scout commented “He would return his hat to his head, swing me to his shoulders in her very presence, and we would go home in the twilight. It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived”.
Tim Johnson was a mad brown dog that foreshadowed the innocence and death of Tom Robinson. Heck Tate determined the dog’s death without even consulting the owner which reflected the snap judgements of a prejudiced mind. The dog’s “snail pace” was a reference to the Alabama’s slow change in addressing prejudice. In both cases, Atticus used his talents and power but had no control over destiny. The rifle was symbolic of Atticus’ control of darker power opposed to his saintly reading side. He was quiet because he “put his gun down when he realised that God had given him an unfair advantage” referring to racial prejudice and his talents.
He possessed great humility and never felt the need to brag about his prowess as the “deadest shot in Maycomb County. ” As the quiet and respectable moral backbone of Maycomb, he was the only one who was compelled by justice and was courageous enough to defend Tom Robinson in his trial where he was already convicted of rape “in the secret court of men’s hearts”. Atticus clarified that “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything… ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favouring Negroes over and above themselves. to Scout who was agitated by Maycomb’s overall reaction to her father’s decision. After facing a myriad of taunts and confronting threats from the community for his defence for an African American named Tom Robinson, he was re-elected to the state legislature unanimously. Atticus was an honourable, quiet and selfless defender when Tom Robinson was jailed. He had premonition and foresight into the consequences of his actions in defending an innocent African American man and took responsibility and preventative measure to protect those around him.
He sat outside all night solitarily reading and expecting an angry mob’s assault. Atticus was involved in an altercation where Bob Ewell spat tobacco and threatened him while he simply kept calm, wiped his face with a clean handkerchief and adamantly endured the insults. Ewell realised that he failed to provoke Atticus into a fight and claimed that he was “too proud to fight” and a “nigger-lovin’ bastard”, to which Atticus responded, “No, too old” and walked away with quiet dignity.
This is reflected when Atticus enlightened Scout, “I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes—baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. ” He had the powerful quality of integrity and was known as the man who was “the same in his house as he is on the public streets. ” His powerful understanding and maturity can be credited to his reasonable temperament and quiet nature that enabled him to think calmly, listen effectively and observe clearly.
Atticus remained quiet during the acrimonious remarks because he comprehended that Bob Ewell was not a threat, he was expressing his anger because Atticus had stripped away every last bit of credibility the man had, damaged his pride and reputation and Atticus thought it was better for Ewell to vent his anger on him if that would spare Mayella another beating. He was strong enough to bear the onslaught with a head held high for justice and forgiveness. Although Maycomb perceived Atticus Finch as an outspoken lawyer, he had amazing self-control, courage, humility and excellent moral character.
He was a powerful example for not only his children but Maycomb itself to dispel racial prejudice. Another modern example of an influential individual who is quiet but powerful is Joanne Rowling (J. K. Rowling). She is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer. She is a self-proclaimed introvert and known for her worldwide sensation ‘Harry Potter’, a 7 series fantasy literature novel. It is estimated that one-third to one-half of the population is composed of introverts. They generally report feeling most creative when they’re along with their own thoughts rather than being in groups.
Rowling’s exceptional works have gained worldwide recognition, won multiple awards, become the best-selling book series in history and sold more than 400 million copies. She is the first billionaire from writing novels. Rowling stated on her website that she had the first ideas for Harry potter in 1990 when she was commuting alone on a delayed train from Manchester to London. “I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six, but I had never been so excited about an idea before.
To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one. I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. ” Her magnificent ideas could be credited to her quiet and shy personality which ultimately resulted in an impactful and renowned novel series.
She was incredibly resilient when facing countless rejections, depression, suicidal thoughts, the death of her mother, her divorce, being a single mum and a problematic financial situation. Despite her countless obstacles, J. K. Rowling published a phenomenal novel that is read by billions all over the world. During her early years, her real name was not revealed because her publisher believed that young boys would not read her works because she was a woman. She was previously rejected by publishers because she was a female writer.
She was a silent soldier who continued to inch towards her dream, in her inspirational speech at the Harvard Commencement she shared, “You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity. ” She encourages children in the technologically based modern generation to read and improve their literacy. It helps rekindle the world’s love for reading and encourage many to pursue writing. J. K. Rowling is a role model for young women, she gained recognition from her intelligence and creativity instead of physical features.
She encourages women to pursue their dreams through their hardships, to have determination, to express imagination, to overcome failures and to excel in areas where sexist opinions are still held. This is demonstrated in her quote “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”. She also promotes generosity and humility through her donations to many charities and auctions. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was presented with the title the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors.
She supports charities including ‘Comic Relief’, ‘One Parent Families’, ‘Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain’ and ‘Lumos’ (formerly the Children’s High-Level Group). In Summation, both Atticus Finch and J. K. Rowling demonstrate that the quietest people have the potential to be the most powerful. Both individuals share qualities of determination, introversion, resilience and humility. Their achievements are groundbreaking such as reinforcing racial equality or becoming a renowned writer, yet they continue to influence individuals and remain humble.