Alexz Averette Professor Allyne English 101 22 September 2012 Critical Review of “Finding Forrester” No matter your age or color one should always respect your peers, your elders, and most importantly, oneself. Respect, is a major theme portrayed in the movie “Finding Forrester. ” Having respect means having a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something due to their abilities, qualities, or achievements. It can also mean having consideration for someone or something. Respect is a social function, which shows that one recognizes what things are done to benefit yourself and others like you.
It plays a big part in our everyday lives from the adolescent stage of our life, all the way through adulthood. In “Finding Forrester” Jamal Wallace’s sense of respect isn’t his writing or his basketball skills, but respecting others and himself. When Jamal went to school in the Bronx, he only did enough to get by. He didn’t feel the need to do his best when it came to his schoolwork. It was as if he was hiding his gift under a blanket of mediocrity because of his surroundings and what he thought everyone would think of him.
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He preferred to showcase another gift he had, basketball, a gift he felt was more respected in his community and amongst his friends. Jamal was afraid to stand out academically, which made him do so even more! Although his everyday schoolwork was average C+ work, it seemed his conscience would not allow him to put forth the same lazy effort, thus he showed his above average knowledge through his standardized test scores. He tried to hide the very thing that made him so special, and would gain him the respect he deserved.
Jamal did not begin to respect his gift of writing until he began to attend a prestigious private school in Manhattan that recognized his intelligence. Jamal felt comfortable letting his writing ability shine. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination showed its face, as the professor doubted his ability and constantly accused him of plagiarism. Although Jamal began to respect his own gift, his professor did not. At the beginning of the movie, Jamal was dared to trespass a mysterious old man’s apartment in the middle of the night. The man was a mystery for everyone.
All they knew was he never left the apartment, so Jamal entered the old man’s home, with no consideration or respect for this man’s privacy, in order to find clues about the man’s identity. His friends told him he had to bring back a “souvenir” that he went about putting what seemed to be a rather nice sized knife in his backpack to take back to his friends. Jamal’s decision to steal from this unknown man, William Forrester, a great author, proved his lack of respect for other’s property and himself as a person. Jamal eventually went back to Mr. Forrester’s apartment to apologize, this marked the first stages of understanding respect.
After spending time with the known author, William Forrester, they began a path to respect for each other and eventually for Jamal’s writing. Forrester made Jamal promise to never say anything about him to anybody and he respected that wish, eventually risking his entire education and basketball career to uphold that promise. Although Jamal Wallace’s less than glamorous background made him a social outcast in his new private school, his performance on the court and in the classroom earned him the respect of many of his teachers and his rich, pampered peers, including Claire, the pretty daughter of the head of Mailor’s board of directors.
When he first arrived, he was looked upon as nobody or a troublemaker amongst the other students. Mailor’s writing professor deemed Jamal’s work good but “too good” for someone of his background and circumstances. Thinking he was just another slacker on an athletic scholarship, he accused Jamal of plagiarism saying he could not have possibly written some of the great pieces of writing he turned in. The professor let his prejudices create a lack of respect for Jamal and the work that he presented.
As Jamal learned from William Forrester, his writing became better, but the attitude at the school including the Board of Directors wouldn’t allow anyone to open their minds about his talent. When Mr. Forrester himself came before the class, he read a letter that was so beautifully written that it seemed to be of his own work. He revealed that Jamal was the true writer. Jamal gained his peers respect along with the other Board of Directors, but not so much of his professor’s respect. Jamal also bumped heads with the present star of Mailor’s boys’ basketball team who was also African American.
Being as competitive as he was, Jamal pushed the buttons of the star to prove he was better than him. The coach respected the game Jamal played, but not him as a player. They would go head to head, back and forth during practice to prove their dominance on the team. Jamal eventually earned the respect of his whole team as well as the respect of others in his school by taking them all the way to the Championship game where they would sadly lose by one. He also learned it was the team that won, not one person. For Jamal, it opened his eyes to how to be a team player and respect each person’s contribution.
The film “Finding Forrester” helps to demonstrate the importance respect has in our lives. It does not just come, it must be earned and sometimes at a price. Jamal came to respect himself and let the gift he was blessed with shine for all those to see without shame. He realized that he didn’t have to hide his gift of writing, playing basketball or just being him. His gift was not the writing or basketball, it was the journey to understand the respect you have for others is the foundation of maturity. He also gained a mutual respect and friendship with an unlikely old man and famous author who taught him many lessons about himself.
Jamal also demonstrated the important of trust and respect for a friend. They learned from each other creating a rare bond. Getting the respect from his teachers and peers despite his different “street-like” background, seemed to be the hardest of all. He overcame the obstacles and showed that even though his background was different, he still had something to give both athletically and academically. Jamal’s succeed in learning the lesson that will remain with him as long as he lives; above all to respect yourself and others.
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