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25 Sep


Publié par Sandrine CHARAVY




                Andrew Beckett, a young and brilliant lawyer who has AIDS, has been summoned by the senior partners of his firm.


“Andrew”, Mr. Wheeler said, “before we begin I’d like to say that everyone in this room is your friend.”

“I know that Charles”, Andrew said.

“Well, Andy, we’ve been talking it over,” Mr. Wheeler said. “We think your future is, ah, we feel that, because we respect you so much we have to be honest with you.”

“I’m all for honesty,” Andrew said.

“Are you really?” Mr. Kenton said.

“Yes, Walter, I am.” Andrew stopped. Suddenly he understood. He had heard stories about Mr. Wheeler’s little good-luck-and-get-out speech, always given in front of the other managing partners and always recorded by a secretary. Around the firm, it was called “The Executioner’s Song,” and Andrew realized that this was it. “Excuse me,” he said, “am I being fired?” Only a second or two passed, but it felt like an eternity.

“Let’s put it this way, Andy,” Mr. Wheeler said. “Your place in the future of this firm is no longer secure. We don’t think it’s fair to keep you here where you’re limited. But we do wish you luck, Andy, all the luck in the world.”

                Andrew suddenly felt sick; the kind of life he had enjoyed so much, and had always assumed would continue, was over in an instant.

                Mr. Wheeler stood, gave Andrew his best paternalistic smile, and said, “And I hate to rush you out of here, but we’ve got a meeting in my office.”

                Everyone stood, smiling pleasantly, as though they had all enjoyed some trivial conversation, not destroyed a career.

                “Excuse me, Charles.” Andrew said. “With all due respect, this is preposterous. It doesn’t make any sense – it sounds like we’re talking about somebody else. Pardon the lack of humility, but I’ve had the distinct impression that I was one of the riding stars around here, and I’m sure that wasn’t just my imagination, I think I deserve to know what is really going on!”

                “Oh, you’re right, Beckett,” Mr. Kenton said sarcastically, “you don’t have an attitude problem.”

                “Take it easy, Walter”, Mr. Wheeler said.

                “If you’d lost confidence in me, why did you give me the Highline case?”

                “Andy!” Mr. Seidman said. “You nearly blew the case, for God’s sake! That alone is inexcusable. It could have been catastrophic for us. Put yourself in our shoes, Andy.”

                “Bob!” Mr. Wheeler warned.

                “There’s no coming back from a mistake like that,” Mr. Seidman continued,”regardless of you are.” He sounded sad about it, but he definitely supported the others. “I’m sorry, Andy”, he said softly.

                “I see,” Andrew said.

                “Good luck, Andrew,” Mr. Wheeler said, and one by one the partners and Mr. Wheeler’s secretary left the room. Then a man walked in.

                “Mr. Beckett?”

                “Who are you?”

                “I’m here to escort you to your office so you can organize your belongings.”


Christopher Davis, Philadelphia (1993)





I.                    VOCABULARY

to be fired / dismissed / sacked                                                                             

a dismissal


to get rid of someone / to fire someone / to give the sack to someone


a (managing) partner

an employer / a boss

an employee


a law firm

a lawyer

a case  


to sue someone / to take sb to court / to prosecute


to be up to a job                                                                                                           

to have confidence in someone                                             


contemptuous (adj)

narrow minded (adj)

pitiless / merciless / heartless (adj)

to be a coward


to carry the AIDS virus = to be an AIDS carrier

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome                                                            

to catch / develop the AIDS virus

to be infected with a deadly disease



to be prejudiced against

to be discriminated against

excluded / rejected


II.                  Translate the following expressions into English…read carefully the text to have some help.

« Disons les  choses ainsi, vous êtes virés » = ______________________________________________

« J’aimerais savoir ce qu’il se passe ici » = ________________________________________________

Il a failli faire rater l’affaire = ___________________________________________________________

« Mettez-vous à notre place, nous ne pouvons plus vous garder avec nous » = ___________________

« Prenez les choses calmement » = __________________________________________________


III.                Meaning

1.       Answer the questions about the text.

a.       Give the complete names of the senior (managing) partners.

b.      Pick out a sentence expressing the fact that Andrew is fired.

c.       The senior partners pretend to ignore that Andrew has AIDS. Quote the sentence which proves that they know Andrew is an AIDS carrier.

d.      How do the senior partners justify Andrew’s dismissal? Quote the sentence.

e.      Explain what Seidman means when he says “that alone is inexcusable” (line 28)

f.        Find two expressions showing that Andrew is a brilliant lawyer.

g.       What makes Andrew realize he is being fired?

h.      What does the word “limited” mean (line 13)


 2.     Right or wrong? Justify your answer by quoting from the text.

a.       Andrew more or less expected this to happen so he doesn’t overreact.

b.      He is flabbergasted.

c.       He feels so hopeless that he doesn’t try to defend himself.

d.      He accuses them of employment discrimination.

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Ce blog pédagogique est adressé aux élèves du lycée Jacob Holtzer mais également aux parents qui souhaitent découvrir les différentes activités menées en classe et les projets proposés aux élèves de la cité scolaire.