Theme Essay Abandonment Antwone demonstrates difficulty forming relationships to abandonment issues he developed as a child. Antwone’s father left him after being shot by an ex-girlfriend. His mother was incarcerated most of his childhood and did not take him back after being released. His best friend Jesse was killed in front of him after a botched robbery. Antwone states his feelings that Jesse is the lucky one for being dead and not having to fight anymore. Abuse Mrs. Tate, Antwone Fisher’s foster mother, verbally humiliates Antwone calling him and his brothers “nigga” instead of their actual names.
Antwone and his brothers buy into Tate’s view of their low self worth to the point they can tell who she is talking to by the way she says “nigguh”. Besides the verbal abuse, Tate regularly beats Antwone and locks him in dark rooms for hours on end. When Antwone finally demonstrated resistance to Tate’s beatings she used what Antwone calls “other ways” by playing upon Antwone’s pyrophobia (fear of fire). Tate’s cruelty is further exposed when she refuses to let Antwone go out and accuses him of stealing money (which he intended to use to go out to a concert).
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Antwone denies the unfounded accusation and states he got the money raking lawns. Tate demands he give the money to her explaining that “ a dumb nigguh like you wouldn’t know what to do with it. ”Antwone is also sexually abused by Nadine Tate multiple times. He can only turn to his best friend Jesse to help him. The psychological effects demonstrate themselves as Antwone gets older by his inability to develop relationships with women (most particularly Cheryl). The abusive background leads to the rage Antwone feels as an adult who considers that the world conspires against him and that nothing good ever happens to him.
Race The subject of race comes up multiple times in the film. The first is at the beginning of the film when Antwone feels a white sailor is mocking him for the way his face looks when he shaves. Another time is when Mrs. Tate points out that Antwone’s foster brother Keith is superior to him due to having a white man for a father and being lighter-skinned. The lesson stays with Antwone to the point that he tells Davenport the order of adoption begins with light-skinned girls, then light-skinned boys, then dark-skinned girls, and dark-skinned boys being left for last.
While Antwone waits in social services to obtain information about his parents, he notices advertisements for adoption. The viewer is then shown various posters of children who want to be adopted absent any dark-skinned boys. Antwone even calls a fellow sailor “an Uncle Tom” for his fraternizing with both white and black people despite the fact Antwone has white friends of his own. Psychiatry At the beginning of the film, Antwone and his fellow sailors mock psychiatry and call the psych house “the nut house. Antwone feels the profession is a foolish one and spends most of the first sessions refusing to acknowledge a problem and refusing to talk to Davenport. Eventually he relents and realizes the sessions are good for him. Antwone soon develops a dependence on the sessions and refuses to stop them because he believes Davenport is abandoning him just like everyone else had. Antwone also discusses his therapy sessions with Cheryl and understands if she wants to end their relationship because he’s “a nut. ” Cheryl tells Antwone that her father (a Vietnam veteran) had also taken psychiatry and she felt there was nothing wrong with it.
Healing The theme of healing is prevalent throughout the movie. Antwone feels enormous rage at being abandoned and feels that he is unwanted. He takes out this rage upon his fellow sailors in the Navy and is afraid to develop relationships (most notably with Cheryl). Davenport comments that Antwone is headed for a discharge, but Antwone seems largely indifferent. But through the guidance of Davenport, Antwone is able to open up and destroy the vicious cycle of self-destruction that he has fallen into.
Antwone develops a bond of friendship with Davenport and a romantic relationship with Cheryl. At first, Antwone seems largely unconcerned with finding his family but eventually recognizes he needs to for closure to move on with his life. Finding his family brings the healing Antwone had sought and echoes his dream of sitting at a feast surrounded by loving family members (echoing the first scene of the film) with the little boy (referring to the poem “Who Will Cry For The Little Boy? “) inside able to finally lay to rest.
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