Clarence Darrow: Defender of the People Critical Essays

Doris Faber


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Faber’s study of Darrow offers a spirited introduction to her subject, one of the greatest Americans who ever lived and certainly one of the best trial lawyers that the United States has produced. She proceeds by first portraying a twelve-year--old Darrow receiving his initial pair of long pants. Faber engages young readers—especially preteens—with the image of a genius in the making acting much as they might act. She portrays the young Darrow as a sensitive yet brave boy who loves both sports and debate.

Fortunately for her readers, however, Faber does not overidealize Darrow: His “warts” show as well as his virtues. Yet it is clear that her young subject has an unusually keen perception of issues and a penetrating intellect. Nevertheless, the young Darrow seems to have been a well-liked child. Thus, Clarence Darrow contains elements for both extroverted and introverted young readers.

The book presents Darrow as a positive person. He is described as an active, intellectually restless, and caring individual who is bored by the pursuit of money, though not averse to fame. Nevertheless, his motives are never in question. There is a danger, however, in this kind of idealistic presentation. Young people reading about the older Darrow—as opposed to the youthful one, who had an occasional fault—find what appears to be a perfect human being. Therefore, it may be a bit hard for many young readers to identify with this portrayal...

(The entire section is 473 words.)