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'Uncle Hub's advice to Walter' - Johnson Scholarship at Washington and Lee


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I'm applying for the Johnson Scholarship at W&L, and this is my essay.

Here's the prompt: "Describe a work of art that influenced you, and describe that influence." (I already cleared using movie with an adcom)

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most." Such was Uncle Hub's advice to Walter in the 2003 movie Secondhand Lions, a film full of inspiration and insight. The story revolves around Walter, a twelve-year-old boy from the city who is forced to spend a summer with his two eccentric, reclusive uncles in rural west Texas. Uncle Hub and Uncle Garth are the embodiment of the archetypal "manly man," with their shotguns, propensity for swearing, and largely meat-based diets. Over the course of a few months with his newfound relatives, young Walter hears the story of his uncles' North African exploits, adopts a pet lion, and learns what it means to be a man. As a viewer of the movie, I accompanied Walter, hearing what he heard and learning what he learned. Near the end, Uncle Hub delivered a short impromptu speech to Walter. Although it only lasted about twenty seconds, Uncle Hub's "What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man" speech made me think critically about how I live my own life.

The main point of Uncle Hub's makeshift speech is summarized in his poignant statement about what a man needs to believe. Although it may seem confusing at first, this avowal has merit when I apply it myself. More specifically, Uncle Hub's words validate my personal outlook and my faith– the aspects that most clearly define any person.

First, Secondhand Lions validates my idealistic outlook. After his profound statement about what a man needs to believe, Uncle Hub went on to clarify what he meant. He told Walter that it is necessary to believe that "people are basically good" and that "honor, courage, and virtue mean everything." In my personal experience, I have found that maintaining such a sense of optimism, in addition to adhering to a morally justifiable code of conduct, to be invaluable. While the modern world may not put these values in high esteem, belief in them and in their preservation is still indispensable to the individual, as Secondhand Lions has shown me.

Furthermore, Uncle Hub's speech made me consider my faith. Faith, after all, implies a jump of belief to something that is not definitively true. According to Uncle Hub, making such a leap is essential for every man, and I share this belief. Throughout my life, I've experienced periods of doubt and skepticism regarding the existence of a god. Yet Secondhand Lions helps me regain my perspective. Uncle Hub's words remind me that, although my faith is not based in fact, it is still a necessary component of my life. True or not, belief simply for the sake of belief is imperative.

In short, Secondhand Lions has shown me that oftentimes the things that are not necessarily true are the ones that are worth believing in. In particular, Uncle Hub's "What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man" speech has stressed to me the importance of undeterred optimism, old-fashioned values, and unquestioning faith. Altogether, these values constitute my personal code of conduct. At Washington and Lee, a school renowned for its emphasis on honor and integrity, such a code of conduct will serve me well.

Thanks for your input.

Nov 26, 2011, 08:03am   #2
I think it's a really good essay--maybe you should put in an example of how uncle hub's words really changed your faith, simply to give the admissions office a tangible example of how it has changed you
Constructive feedback: the purpose of the essay is to allow for the scholarship judges a chance to get to know you. I think you can create a deeper connection if you rework your ending paragraph into your opening. Something like:

Different art mediums are able to influence people differently. For me the speech "What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man" in the full film 2003 Secondhand Lions move communicates more than what I think any picture or sculpture could accomplish. It is more difficult to express words of wisdom in a still picture or sculpture than in a film. As a young man, I felt the words of wisdom regarding the importance of undeterred optimism, old-fashioned values, and unquestioning faith were said and directed towards me. When hearing such advice, I did not feel as though I was listening to words while watching a movie. Instead the film did a spectacular job of making me feel that I was receiving advice from someone I know and trust.

If I were you I would then follow up with clare11 advice about an example.
Holy cow that's just what I was looking for in a conclusion, but couldn't make myself. I had such a hard time with this essay, especially at the conclusion. I will definitely take your advice, Crystal. Also, I've added in an example for the faith paragraph.

Here's the new version for that paragraph.

Furthermore, Uncle Hub's speech makes me consider my faith. Faith, after all, implies a jump of belief to something that is not definitively true. According to Uncle Hub, making such a leap is essential for every man, and I share this belief. Throughout my life, I've experienced periods of doubt and skepticism regarding the existence of a god. Sometimes I sit in church with my family not paying attention to the sermon at all, instead torturing myself mentally in the attempt to rationalize my religion. It was during one of these periods of doubt that I watched Secondhand Lions for the first time, and watching it helped me regain my perspective. Uncle Hub's words still remind me today that, although my faith is not based in fact, it is still a necessary component of my life. True or not, belief simply for the sake of belief is imperative.

What do you guys think?
While faith is an interesting topic, it is also more subject to personal interpretation than other topics. For example, what if there are 5 people on the scholarship judging panel. Each person may vary in their degree of faith. One may go to church 1-2 a week and participate in almost every church event, while another judge may not attend church regularly or at all. People by their very nature tend to support people who are like themselves. So if you are questioning your faith and a scholarship judge is PERSONALLY offended by this, then this one person has a lot of power to affect your chances of NOT being awarded the scholarship GREATLY. Generally I advice people to choose other topics instead if possible, unless it is a religion based scholarship offered by a church or the scholarship essay questions specifically ask about faith.

If you really want to stick to the topic of questioning faith, then I suggest taking a lot of time to carefully choose your words. Perhaps describe it as: At some point everyone experiences a situation that leads them to question their faith. For people who may not feel comfortable talking to their family and friends or church pasture about their doubts, I would highly recommend this movie. The movie is able to help people regain their perspective.
A good essay.it was more of uncle hub and the seven year old boy in the story you told and less of you..I would have appreciated it more only if you had enlightened me on your previous faith.



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