The World of Henry Bemis Relating Themes in Law
Many of my readers might not be aware, but there’s a unique and surreal holiday that takes place on May 11. Twilight Zone Day is a great time for fans to rewatch their favorite Twilight Zone episodes or consider some of the strangest things that have ever happened in their lives. For me, I’m strongly reminded of a Twilight Zone episode called“Time Enough at Last.” In this episode, Henry Bemis, played by Burgess Meredith, works as a bank teller with thick glasses, which he needs to enjoy his love of reading. The people in his life tell him he reads too much and that he needs to stop. In order to get some peace and quiet, Henry locks himself in the bank vault for his lunch break. One day, when Henry leaves the vault, he finds that the world has been destroyed by a nuclear disaster and he’s the only person left alive. Henry despairs at first, but then he finds the public library, which still has all its books intact. The episode ends with Henry surrounded by books, settling down to read his first one, when he suddenly stumbles and shatters his glasses on the pavement. Even though I first watched the episode years ago, it has always stuck with me. It has a lot of themes that I appreciate: a thirst for knowledge, a need for other people, and working through forces beyond our control. In some ways, I can relate to Henry as he interacts with these themes, which can also be applied to the field of law. First is the endless thirst for knowledge. As an attorney, I am constantly researching the best ways to help my clients through difficult moments in their lives. Laws change continuously and abruptly, which requires a lot of time, energy, and reading to stay current.
In “Time Enough at Last,” Henry is persistently seeking knowledge from the books he reads, and it’s not just from one source. He pores over publications from the greatest authors and, likewise, I seek only the best legal resources. The theme that I find the most obvious in this episode is the need for other people. Henry is always looking for another book and finds his wife, boss, and people in general to be a source of constant annoyance when he tries to read. While he wishes to be completely alone, he doesn’t realize the agony of true loneliness until finding himself in a world without other people. Unlike Henry, I don’t take the people around me for granted. Without my team working with me, it would take a lot more time and effort to help my clients. One of the other themes, working through forces that we can’t control, is something everyone can relate to. Henry had no control over the destruction of the world, but he was
forced to live in it regardless. There are many similar instances where people find themselves in a situation they have no power over and end up hurt. These moments cause confusion, anxiety, and pain for a lot of people, just as Henry felt throughout the episode. The practice of law has its own Twilight Zone moments, like the time my law partner’s client lied about his real name in his sworn deposition. He was using his brother’s name and was not who he claimed to be. She and I looked at each other, and Rod Serling very well could have come into frame. While I can’t do anything for Henry or his world, I can help my clients deal with the unpredictable circumstances that may make them feel like they are in the Twilight Zone.
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