Mitchell Stephens in The Sweet Hereafter Essay

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"The Sweet Hereafter" by Russell Banks is a fictional novel based on a real life tragedy. The story is about a community coping with the loss of almost all of its children after the towns school bus is involved in an accident in which most of them die. The accident occurs on a treacherous winding highway when the driver loses control of the school bus and it plunges down an embankment into an ice covered sandpit. The novel is unique in the way that it is written because it's story is told 4 different ways, from 4 different characters, each one filling you in just a little more on their perspective of what really happened. One of these characters is Mitchell Stephens. He is a lawyer from New York City with an undeniable past. He is a …show more content…
Though money is Mitchell Stephens's external motive he is really driven by a hidden internal one. He is especially drawn to this case because it deals with the loss of children. Mitchell Stevens himself is the victim of a lost child and admits that he is on a "personal vendetta." His daughter is not physically dead like those of Sam Dent just lost from all hope. Mitchell Stephens has a strained long-distance relationship with his daughter Zoe. After him and his wife divorced Zoe was sent off to boarding school and from there her life slowly slipped into drugs. Though he tries to help and support her in all her needs he often does more harm then help. He is "in the position of having to buy her clean needles to protect her against AIDS." Though he has not seen her in years he sends her money, usually for a plane ticket home, which is later cashed and used for more drugs. She is like a ghost that haunts him with random phone calls reminding him that she exists when he probably would rather forget. She is the main reason that Mitchell Stephens is fighting for this case. Zoe's demise fuels his anger against a bleak modern culture that he believes has stolen his daughter. Though Mitchell Stephens had accomplished great things in his career, he always feels like a failure because of his daughter. After his wife left him he focused too much into his work

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