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Assignment: Read the article Six Clues to Character by Hara Estroff Marano. Choose a main character from All Souls to consider as you read. Explain whether your character possesses each trait and has positive experiences as a result. You may choose Michael Patrick, his mother, one of his siblings, or the people of Southie as a whole. Once you have read about all of the traits, decide on two traits that best apply to your character. Write an essay explaining how those two traits helped this character. You may consider that your main character possessed this trait and had positive experiences as a result... or he/she may have LACKED this trait, leading him or her to experience difficulties.
According to an article by Hara Estroff Marano, a psychologist writing for Psychology Today, there are 6 traits that determine one's future. These traits are intelligence, drive, happiness, goodness, friendship and capacity for intimacy. All of these traits help the person who has them to succeed in life. In the book All Souls, by Michael Patrick MacDonald, it is clear that MacDonald possesses both goodness and the capacity for intimacy, both of which help him to make the neighborhood that he loves a better place to live, and to bring justice to his family. By helping out the two things that he loves the most- his family and Southie- MacDonald gains a sense of purpose and is happier.
In Marano's article, psychologist Susan Engel suggests that goodness is a combination of the willingness to help others and the ability to empathize. When Michael becomes an adult, he starts a gun buyback program and decides to dedicate his life to helping those who live in poor communities. Because he grew up in Southie, he was exposed to a lot of of gun violence and can empathize with others who live in communities that are greatly affected by gun violence. His ability to empathize demonstrates his goodness. This quality gives him a sense of purpose and also makes the neighborhood that he himself lives in safer and more secure
In addition to having goodness, Michael also has the capacity for intimacy. According to the article, intimacy is the willingness to be vulnerable and to tolerate day to day human errors. When Michael's brother, Steven, is accused of murder, but pleads innocent, Michael believes him. This shows that he can tolerate the police's false accusation. Michael's trust helps Steven not to give up hope, and eventually contributes to his release from juvenile detention. Michael's capacity for intimacy helps to keep his family together.
In conclusion, Michael's goodness and intimacy help him to improve not only the lives of others around him, but also his personal life. In Michael's case, over a thousand guns are returned to his buyback program, making communities such as Dorchester and Mattapan a lot safer. Michael's intimacy also helps in Stevie's trial, and after being in juvenile prison for a while, it is finally determined that he is actually innocent. Perhaps it is not the things that we do, but the qualities that we do them with, that define our lives.