John Grisham's Secret
Thesis Statement: John Grisham develops his character and themes in his novels to show his personal experiences.
A. Mitch McDeere
1. The Firm, plot
2. How he gets involved with the firm
B. Sam Cayhall
1. Death penalty
2. His lawyer
A. Good/ evil
1. The Firm
2. A Time to Kill
1. in his novels
2. His attitude
1. John Grisham's tricks
2. Same formula
III. Personal experiences
A. As a lawyer
1. His cases
2. His success
John Grisham's Secret
John Grisham is one of the most famous living, best-selling authors in America. "Since 1992, John Grisham has written a book yearly. Everyone became a bestseller" (Zaleski). Now one might question: How does he do that? Where does he get his ideas from? Where did he learn to write like this? He develops his characters and themes in his novels to show his personal experiences. The Firm, Grisham's second suspense novel is a good example to show Grisham's concept.
Mitch McDeere, the protagonist of the book, is considered as "one of Harvard Law School's brightest" (Brashler). After going to college, Mitch needs money. He is not rich and from a humble home (Pringle 43). He has a $23,000 debt from law school and drives a Mazda hatchback that he had to run downhill to start (Pringle 41). Mitch is "brilliant, tireless and married to a looker" (Brashler). "Fresh out of law school, Mitch is full of idealism and uncompromising ethics" (Pringle 47). Of course the offer of the firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke comes in the right time. They promise Mitch $ 80,000 plus bonuses, a law-interest mortgage loan and a leased BMW (Brashler). Who would not understand, that this offer sounds very interesting to Mitch. "In return McDeere simply would have to work his tail off--70-hour weeks are expected--and toe the firm's line." Furthermore the firm promises him that he'll be a millionaire by 45 (Brashler). This offer seems so promising, that Mitch accepts it. "Mitch believes in working hard and would not knowingly become involved in anything illegal" (Pringle 47). He impresses the firm's most critical partners by billing heaps of hours. He later learns that
the firm is an active front for a Chicago crime family. Mitch is shocked. An FBI agent tells him that his new firm is rotten to his wingtips and that the deaths of two partners were not accidental (Brashler). McDeere does not know what to do, but finally he decides to help the FBI, which wants him to gather evidence against his employers (Pringle 41). John Grisham makes the reader actually like Mitch McDeere. The reader does not know much about the inner working of Mitch's mind, such as what he thinks and dreams about. Stereotypically, lawyers are bad and Mitch McDeere has joined this group. McDeere throws just enough back at his bosses to put the reader on his side (Brashler). The firm was the best-selling novel of 1991 in the United States of America (Pringle 41). "In the Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Charles Chaplin wrote that the "character penetration is not deep, but the accelerating tempo of paranoia-driven events is wonderful." Chicago Tribune Books reviewer Bill Brashler: The Firm reads "like a whirlwind"" (DISCovering Authors). In one of his other books, The Chamber, John Grisham writes about Sam Cayhall, who is on the death row for the murder of two young sons of a Jewish civil rights attorney (DISCovering Authors). He is a Ku Klux Klansman. A young lawyer tries to fight for his life. John Grisham himself says about The Chamber: "It is much more about the people." "Time applauded Grisham for his struggle to show the complexities of capital punishment as an ethical issue: "The Chamber is a work produced by painful writing over a terrible paradox; vengeance may be justified, but killing is a shameful demeaning response to evil"" (Newsmakers...
Cited: Brashler, Bill. "Corporate Lawyers Who Lead Wild Lives." Chicago Tribune Books. February
1993. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1993.
"John Grisham." Newsmaker 1994, Issue 4. Gale Research, 1994.
"Overview of John Grisham." DISCovering Authors. Gale Group, 1999.
Pringle, Mary Beth. John Grisham: a critical companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
Zaleski, Jeff. "The Grisham Business." Publishers Weekly. January 19, 1998. pp. 248-51.
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