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Grade 8 English
4.5 Character Is Destiny

"Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember" is a book by United States Senator John McCain with Mark Salter. It is a collection of biographies about individuals from the past and present who, in the authors' view, exemplify the best qualities of character.

In McCain's words from the book's introduction:

It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy. That is all that really passes for destiny. And you choose it. No one else can give it to you or deny it to you. No rival can steal it from you. And no friend can give it to you. Others can encourage you to make the right choices or discourage you. But you choose.

The book is divided into seven parts with further divisions of a characteristic and a person who is seen to exemplify it.


  • HONESTY -- Thomas More
  • RESPECT -- Gandhi
  • AUTHENTICITY -- Joan of Arc
  • LOYALTY -- Sir Ernest Shackleton
  • DIGNITY -- Viktor Frankl

PART TWO: Purpose

  • IDEALISM -- Sojourner Truth
  • RIGHTEOUSNESS -- Roméo Dallaire
  • CITIZENSHIP -- Pat Tillman
  • DILIGENCE -- Winston Churchill
  • RESPONSIBILITY -- Lord Nelson and His Lieutenants
  • COOPERATION -- John Wooden

PART THREE: Strength

  • COURAGE -- Edith Cavell
  • SELF-CONTROL -- George Washington
  • CONFIDENCE -- Elizabeth I
  • RESILIENCE -- Abraham Lincoln
  • INDUSTRY -- Eric Hoffer
  • HOPEFULNESS -- John Winthrop

PART FOUR: Understanding

  • FAITH -- Christian Guard at Hua Lo Prison
  • COMPASSION -- Maximillian Kolbe
  • MERCY -- Mother Antonia
  • TOLERANCE -- The Four Chaplains
  • FORGIVENESS -- Nelson Mandela
  • GENEROSITY -- Oseola McCarty

PART FIVE: Judgment

  • FAIRNESS -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • HUMILITY -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • GRATITUDE -- Tecumseh
  • HUMOR -- Mark Twain
  • COURTESY -- Aung San Suu Kyi

PART SIX: Creativity

  • ASPIRATION -- Ferdinand Magellan
  • DISCERNMENT -- Leonardo da Vinci
  • CURIOSITY -- Charles Darwin
  • ENTHUSIASM -- Theodore Roosevelt
  • EXCELLENCE -- Wilma Rudolph



Directions: Select any character from the above list. Explain what that character means to you. Do research about the person that Senator McCain identified as someone who exemplifies the character you selected. With proper reasoning, write if you agree or disagree with Senator McCain whether the selected person best exemplifies the character.

Have your essay responses graded by your teacher and enter your score here!

Your score for this chapter (0-100%) =

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