The Demand for Freedom and Equality in I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafasi, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Just like Martin Luther King Jr. said, freedom and equality is not something that the oppressor can just give so generously. After all, freedom is not free; it must be earned by fighting the good fight. Freedom and equality is something you cannot acquire without putting in the effort to earn it. In the texts, “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr., Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafasi, and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, freedom and equality is not given, but demanded and fought for, for they are the fundamentals and essentials of life.
The speech, “I Have A Dream,” by Martin Luther King, was a demand for freedom and equality itself even though it had already supposedly been given, proving that it was not and cannot be given. For instance, after he explains the situation he and his people are in, Martin claims, “And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” (pg. 48,49) Martin Luther is demanding freedom and equality for the Negroes as a whole, demonstrating that he demands the check they were owed, but not given. He implies that the Negroes don’t already have “the riches of freedom and the security of justice,” so he, representing the Negroes in America, is demanding for what they were originally promised. For another example, after he specifies all his terms and conditions, Martin warns everyone, “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” (pg. 49) This reveals that they are fiercely demanding for freedom and equality, to the point where they will cause riots to receive what they deserve. He wants to make sure everyone understands that freedom and equality is just as important to the Negroes as their money and that they will demand to have what is rightfully theirs. In addition, after he states everything he has to say, Martin concludes, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’” (pg. 50) Even though America had stated that all men are equal, equality and freedom weren’t actually existent. They were just words, not actions. Martin believes that now that he has publicly and clearly demanded freedom and equality for his people, his dreams of America being able to “live out the true meaning of its creed” will rise up into reality. As a result, the Negroes, lacking freedom and equality, fight for what was promised to them, knowing that it is a necessity in life.
In the memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, Iranian women, like Sanaz, suffer from the suffocating, fugacious restrictions given to them, leaving no room for freedom nor equality. For instance, as she leaves the house, Sanaz, “puts on her black robe and scarf over her orange shirt and jeans, coiling her scarf around her neck to cover her huge gold earrings. She… put on thin lacy black gloves to hide her nail polish.” (pg. 82) This reveals that she is forced to hide the small pleasures of life because of the new law that was enforced to take away any freedom of choice from the women in Iran. The expressive clothing and accessories that she wears must be covered by dull black clothing, taking away the simple pleasures dressing up gives. What she should be showing off is hidden along with the freedom she should receive. For another example, when women disobey the rules, young women are, “hurled into patrol cats, taken to jail, flogged, fined, forced to wash the toilets and humiliated, and as soon as they leave, they go back and do the same thing.” (pg. 83) Even though the women in Iran were humiliated, tortured, and disrespected, they still performed secret acts of rebellion to send an indirect message of resistance. They couldn’t fight back the feeling of needing freedom, even though they knew it was against regulations, because you require freedom in your life to truly live. Freedom is never simply given, because it can easily be taken away, just like the freedom of choice was taken from the Iranian women.
Some people may disagree or argue, claiming that freedom and equality is always entitled to us, wherever we go. However, in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, it is proven that freedom and equality is never voluntarily given; it is fought for, and as a result, earned as a “prize.” For instance, since “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson,… We [Atticus and Tom Robinson] had such a good change… we had more than a good chance.” (pg. 315, 323) This illustrates that because Atticus tried his best to fight for Tom’s freedom, he became so close to gaining the freedom Tom deserved. Even when the Negroes were already proclaimed free, they were never treated equally and was discriminated daily. Just because they were entitled to freedom doesn’t make it that much more true. In addition, when Atticus and Jem discuss why Tom Robinson lost the case, Atticus concludes, “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s words against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.” (pg. 295) This quote adds to how freedom nor equality was given. In certain circumstances, no matter how hard you fought, you would still lose because of the prejudice that existed. However, as time goes by, if the majority of the people realize how much of an issue it is or how uncomfortable or wrong it is for them or others, freedom and equality will be won over. Ironically, freedom is very expensive and requires a lot of effort to obtain, implying that fighting for it won’t be easy but will be worth it.
The authors of “I Have A Dream” speech, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and To Kill a Mockingbird indicate the struggles of fighting for the freedom and equality the people deserve, knowing that it will never be directly given. All around the world, people suffer from the suffocation from the loss of freedom and equality. Millions of people’s freedoms and rights are stripped away from them, giving them no choice but to fight for them back. Sadly, freedom is not free because the people who are in control will never voluntarily give up the control that they possess. Even your wildest dreams of receiving freedom and equality can be worth fighting for with a touch of bad blood.
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