Building Bridges Essay

Submitted By rideupsidedown4
Words: 1313
Pages: 6

Discrimination and conformity are used to make people feel like they do not belong to society. I have chosen to study the theme ‘how characters are challenged by society through the effects of conformity and discrimination’. This theme is shown through the films Dead Poets Society directed by Peter Weir and Billy Elliot directed by Stephen Daldy. Also in the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildread D. Taylor and the short story The Other Foot by Ray Bradbury.
In the film Dead Poets Society we are introduced to conformity. Conformity is perceived as keeping to accepted rules or customs. In this film we are shown many examples of conformity and also discrimination. As the film progresses we gradually see the boys rebelling against the school’s pressure to conform, replacing it with their own pressure to conform to a newly created society. With the arrival of Mr Keating the boys were encouraged to ‘seize the day’. With the new motto in their minds, we see the boys embark on a trail of rebellion, including being part of the dead poet’s society which involves secret meetings outside the school grounds. This shows how the group of boys were challenged to conform to society. Another example of my theme is how Neil was discriminated against by his father. This was shown through a scene in the early stages of the movie when Mr Perry (Neil’s father) said to Neil “after you’ve finished medical school and you are on your own then you can do as you damn well please. But until then, you do as I tell you. It that clear?” This was brought up as Neil wanted to take different subjects and wanted to be an actor instead of going to medical school. Neil chooses to take part in a play which his father disapproved of and told him that he wasn’t allowed to take part. After the night of the play we see Mr Perry telling Neil off and that they would be moving him schools. This then leads Neil to commit suicide. We realise that the pressure was too much for Neil and that he was challenged by his father and the society through conformity and discrimination.
Another character who was challenged by discrimination was Billy from the film Billy Elliot. Billy wanted to be a ballet dancer and his family and community considered ballet to be a girls sport and that Billy should continue to do boxing. Billy’s father (Jackie Elliot) and his brother (Tony Elliot) were always hard on Billy. When they found out that Billy was doing ballet, they became violent and angrier towards Billy, not just because of the dancing but also due to the situation of Jackie and Tony being on strike. We were shown this when Jackie Elliot yelled at Billy “From now on you can forget about the f***ing ballet. You can forget about the F***ing boxing as well. The way he conformed back to society and his father was by standing up for himself. Billy did this by saying to his father “it’s not just poofs, Dad, some ballet dancers are as fit as athletes.” Later on in the film Jackie accepts Billy being a dance and he is proud to tell people that his son is a brilliant and well known famous dancer. Also another character in this film that was challenged by discrimination was Michael, Billy’s friend. Billy visits Michael before he is due to leave for his audition and is shocked to see him wearing his sisters dress and lipstick. Billy tells Michaels that he is going to London to become a famous ballet dancer. Later on in the film the boys realise that they are different from the other boys there age in their community and that they have both been challenged by discrimination.
Another text that had characters challenged by discrimination was the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In this novel the blacks were discriminated against because of their race as whites thought that they were superior. The main characters that were challenged by discrimination were the Logan Family, especially Cassie Logan. An example of this is at the beginning of the novel the students at Great Faith Elementary