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South Carolina Honors College

The Man and the Wall

by Logan Morgan 

“Privilege Alley” – at least that’s what us lower-class citizens call it. It’s the rich side of town where money is used to stoke fireplaces, where all people desire to live to have better facilities, buildings, and opportunities. With the lack of these privileges life seems bleak, unjust, and without meaning. While those things would be nice, my greatest envy of the residents of Privilege Alley is the knowledge bestowed upon them. They have better teachers, books, and technology, enabling them all to have brighter futures. 

Anyone who wants an education on my side of town must dedicate every second to reaching the level of education taken for granted in Privilege Alley. Maybe there wouldn’t be such a stark difference if the wall were taken down. 

The fifty-foot wall, cutting off the rich from the rest, casts a shadow on our indigent society. Every so often I walk along the wall searching for answers about why we deserve this. I usually leave with remorse, reminded of our legalized captivity. 

Then one day I came upon an elderly man sitting with his back against the wall, arms chained to the brick. The bulky, rusty chains held him down with ease. His head hung low with exhaustion. Suspicious, I approached him. He looked up slowly. 

“Sir, are you well?” I asked. 

He responded with a weary nod. 

I continued to interrogate him. “What are you doing, if you don’t mind me asking?” 

“I am protesting this wall’s dismal existence,” he answered. 

I was about to question him further when he spoke with a sudden burst of anger. 

“All this wall has done is worsen a problem that the government intentionally ignored. They turned away as the gap between our two cities grew. It is easy to dismiss rundown buildings and streets, but when it affected the education of students, something had to be done.” 

The old man paused for air before continuing. 

“I recall long ago; the school board enacted a referendum as an attempt to equalize the education system. Turns out, that was just a ploy to make it seem like they cared. After the referendum was enacted, the government returned its focus to the ‘higher society.’ After all, they were the source of their paychecks. Therefore, superior teachers were recruited to Privilege Alley, and advanced materials were distributed. All the attention and praise was given to their schools. Over time, the government decided that our kind was corrupting Privilege Alley’s youth and lowering their academic success. Due to our contamination, this wall was erected to separate our kind from the higher class. If only the government had been willing to nurture our side rather than focusing on ‘Privilege Alley,’ maybe the scales of justice would balance. Maybe education wouldn’t be such a luxury.” 

I was speechless. 

“The government kept this all secret, leaving those who lived through it as the only people to talk about it,” he went on. “Those who are old enough to remember usually cannot because our kind has no way to keep our minds sharp.” 

This led to my next question. “How is it that you can remember all of this?” 

I wasn’t expecting what I heard next. 

“I once lived in Privilege Alley myself,” he told me. “When I was about fifteen, my family could no longer afford to stay. I still have some of my schoolbooks. I have used them to keep my mind bright through the years.”  

“May I study those books?” I asked, cutting him off. 

I was filled with excitement at the chance to learn from Privilege Alley-level academia, but wondered if punishment would accompany my new knowledge. 

“Of course, I have no need for them anymore. My life will come to an end here, chained to this wall,” he answered. 

Taken aback, I offered my help in releasing him. 

“No, thank you, my days are spent,” he replied. “I can no longer live seeing what society has become.” 

I pleaded again for him to let me help him. He declined once again. 

“My books are kept safe in the wall a few miles east, below the east watchtower. Move the loose bricks to retrieve them. Try to prove to the government that we deserve a chance too. Raise your intellect so high that they can no longer ignore us. Promise me,” he pleaded. 

“I promise,” I replied. 

I bid him farewell and departed. As I walked along the wall, the man’s death did not faze me; all I could do was think about those books. I could do this, I would draw the government’s attention, give them a reason to care. I would heal the injustice of the past and fill the future with possibility. I would do it, all for the man and the wall. I would do it for us all. 


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.