Hundert and Sedgewick Bell

English question 5 “It is not living that is important, but living rightly and honestly. ” The definition of success varies depending on who is defining it. By the end of the novel, Hundert and Sedgewick Bell each believe that they have reached success in their own lives. Sedgewick, following in his Dad’s footsteps of using and manipulating every situation and opportunity in order to advance his selfish goals, feels successful as a wealthy and powerful businessman.

Sedgewick by the example, set by his distant, judgmental, and uncompromising father has learned that being honorable and having good character are qualities that are unimportant when measuring a man’s success.

Just like his father who did not see the merit of developing a moral conscience, Sedgewick Bell rejects the moral guidance of his caring teacher, choosing instead to cultivate the cut-throat tactics his father instilled in him as necessary to achieve the fame and fortune vital for success.

In contrast, Hundert is only able to feel successful when he has regained his dignity and honor by confessing his breach of trust and asking for forgiveness from the student he betrayed.

Once Hundert does the honorable thing and tells Blythe about Hundert’s cheating during the selection of the contestants for the Emperor’s Club competition, Hundert is able to reset his moral compass, and move on with his life.

Hundert comes to understand that it was his selfish desire to see Bell succeed that drove Hundert to disregard what he knew was right in order to avoid the truth – that Sedgewick Bell had no desire to become the honest and hardworking student Hundert “willed” him to be.

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Through this realization Hundert is able to see that even though he may not have succeeded with Bell, this one “failure” does not minimize the positive contribution he has made to the lives of his many other students.

Hundert’s success is evidenced by the fact that even after 25 years, Hundert’s students throw him a party to show their appreciation of the advice, instruction, interest and guidance he gave them when they were students at St. Benedict’s. Hundert is considered by the majority of his students to be a mentor, and positive role model. It is this realization that helps Hundert see that his success lies in the fact that his students have taken his message of living a moral, and honest life with them into their world and used his words to help shape their own productive lives . s well as, that of their children.

Hundert realizes that success should be measured not by the money in a man’s pocket, or the job he has, but by the positive impact he has in the world and on the lives of others. As the film progresses Hundert comes to terms with the fact that no matter how hard he tried he could never compete with the powerful negative influences that were present in the Bell home. Sedgewick was raised to view a successful man as being self-serving, untrusting, insensitive, and controlling.

It was when Hundert tried to set a new moral example of success for Sedgewick that Humbert was driven to compromise his own beliefs. Hundert learned that when one compromises him for the sake of another the relationship is doomed to fail. It is when Hundert is able to accept that he is not responsible for the selfish, immoral man Sedgewick has become that he can rid himself of the feelings of failure that resulted in him leaving the profession he loved.

When Hundert is rewarded by the positive comments of his students he understands that his success is in the fact that he has made the world a better place because he has educated a generation of kind, caring and moral men and fathers who will pass on his appreciation of honor, dignity, kindness, sensitivity, creativity and integrity to future generations. Hundert and Sedgewick each define “success” differently and it is up to each individual viewer to watch and listen to the movie carefully in order to decide which definition he/she will use to evaluate the “success “ of his/her life.

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Hundert and Sedgewick Bell. (2018, Sep 16). Retrieved from

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