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Monday, May 19, 2008

Freedom Writers 2

the pic was taken from here

After writing the result of the discussion in my class on FREEDOM WRITERS, in this article I will write what I like most from this movie.

Erin Gruwell is always the most conspicuous character. She really did her very best for her students although being a teacher at Wilson High School didn’t give her much money. Her own father, Steve Gruwell, who inspired her to treat others as well as she could, without looking at the different ethnic groups (from Steve’s involvement in the civil right movement), praised his daughter as a gifted person. I do appreciate her willingness to do two other part time jobs to make her earn more money where she used the money to provide facilities her students needed, especially books, and some other experiences they got from the trips they did out of town. The trips as well as the books opened her student’s awareness that there was a different kind of life beyond their own hard life. She opined that assigning her students to read DIARY OF ANNE FRANK would make them realize that they were not the only one to suffer from racial discrimination. Living a life as a gang member would even make their life more chaotic.

Among Erin’s students (I noted down eight of them, Eva, Marcus, Andre, Jamal, Cindy, Tito, Gloria, and Ben), I was very interested in Eva and Marcus. Eva easily attracted my attention since her life was portrayed at the very beginning of the movie. Her father raised her to believe in “Don’t go against your own people, your own blood.” Since she was a kid, she already got to know the racial ‘principle’ in America that the Latino people “are less than the white”. She grew up hating the white since the white cops imprisoned her father although her father was innocent.

Eva amazingly controlled herself well (to show that she was a very careful person, she didn’t easily like other people, moreover if they were white) while her classmates already showed their attraction toward Erin. Her disappointment when finding out that Anne Frank died was resulted from her big dream that Anne Frank, as the symbol of resistance, had to survive. She viewed herself as in the same shoes as Anne in the past. When Anne died, would she have to die too?

Eventually, Eva made a big change when she showed her courage by telling the truth in the court. She decided to do this by herself in spite of the fact that her parents as well as her Latino community asked her to protect Paco. This “seemingly small” step was expected to open people’s eyes to tell the truth so that they would do the same thing.

the pic was taken from here

Marcus also stole my attention. His rebellious character came to an end in Erin’s way of teaching. Erin successfully made him realize that education would really make a big change in his life. Going back to his family’s house showed his seriousness to alter his way of life besides studying seriously.
My favorite scene in the movie is the discussion between Erin and Scott, her husband, before he left the house. When Scott asked her to choose between the class and him, Erin came to her realization that what she was looking for in her life was to make her life meaningful by helping her students get rid of their hard life as gang members where they would oftentimes get involved in racial tensions. Her dedication to her job gave her a much greater satisfaction as well as happiness than to dedicate her life to her husband. ‘Helping’ more people to live decently gave her life more senses than just ‘helping’ one person—her husband.

This reminded me of one character in T.S. Eliot’s play “The Cocktail Party”, Celia. Celia who didn’t find what she was looking for in her relationship with Edward realized that she wanted to dedicate her life to human beings, not just one person, Edward, who happened to be married to Lavinia. This awareness—that what she was pursuing in her life was to dedicate her life to God by taking care of human beings—made her decide to go on a missionary.

Happiness in someone’s life—especially in women’s lives—is not necessarily always related to marriage life. When some women find deep happiness in dedicating their life to their husband and children, some other women possibly find it in different ways. Erin chose her students because that was her call. Btw, luckily Erin didn’t live in Indonesia where women get praised as “true and honorable women” only via marriage, especially by dedicating their life to their husband. Erin would get ‘bitch’ label since she ignored her husband, and chose her students instead. People would say that Erin just cared for her own happiness.

Another part of the conversation between Erin and Scott that attracted me was as follow:

“Why can’t you stand by me, and be a part of it, the way a wife supports her husband?” asked Erin to Scott.
“Because I cannot be your wife,” answered Scott.

The above exchange has always been my favorite dialog in the movie. Scott—or patriarchal men in general—would feel impotent when realizing that his wife was more successful than they were. This also apparently would hurt men’s ego.

Scott had shown his disappointment when Erin had the second part time job at Mariott hotel during weekend. “You even didn’t ask me,” was his first complaint. His second complaint was, “Everyone knows you can do anything!” He showed his being inferior in front of his smart wife since he lost his spirit to pursue his architect degree.

In patriarchal culture, men are always welcome to work hard, they even will get appreciation from society as good husbands. However, when women do that, they will even get mockery and they will be considered to oppose their destiny to be domestic creature, because they don’t do household chores as they “are created”. So, instead of getting appreciation because she had dedicated her life for her “unfortunate” students, Erin would get disapproval from society.

To end this writing, I want to cite my own idea of being a feminist: women are free to choose what kind of life they want. I do appreciate Erin’s choice to make her life more meaningful by dedicating her life to her job and deserting her marriage life. In our life we often come to time when we have to make a choice. Erin has absolutely made the best choice, to help more people (her students) than just one spoiled man (her husband).

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