Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mr. Link Deas

Last week, I mentioned a minor character, Link Deas, as an example of courage. Link demonstrates that Atticus is not alone in believing a man should be judged by his deeds, not the color of his skin. Like Atticus, Link Deas recognizes hard work, honesty, and perseverance as admirable traits. He is therefore able to speak in behalf of Tom Robinson and support his widow, Helen Robinson, when she must provide for her family alone.

Link Deas is Tom Robinson’s employer. He knows Tom to be a decent man and says so, interrupting the trial to testify even though Atticus did not call him to the stand. Mr. Deas wants those sitting in judgment to know that he has known Robinson for eight years and that Tom never caused any trouble. Link must hope that the jurors will understand that an eight-year record trumps a belligerent drunk’s accusation.

After Tom has been convicted and shot trying to flee, Deas creates a job for Helen—perhaps because he knows how she will struggle without her husband’s income or perhaps because he knows that racism killed Tom Robinson and some sort of justice must be brought to balance the scale. Whatever Mr. Deas’ motive is, he has proved his courage in speaking out in spite of his neighbors and his customers. He acts to right wrongs, and in doing so, proves that he is not blind to the suffering of others, that he is willing to risk his own safety in the cause of others.

That is what our society requires: an empathetic heart and a will to act.