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Being broken can come in several forms. Broken can be described as being physical, emotional, or psychological. In stories that have a Healing Myth some characters are “broken” and must leave home to become whole again (Seger 373). “Lady, I’m lucky if I make it 18. We in a war. We’re graduating every day we live”, says a Wilson High School student, before describing a life of which gang violence, domestic violence, and being broken are everyday situations. Many lives like this student fill room 203 in the film, Freedom Writers, directed by Richard LaGravenese in 2007. Seger’s approach on the Healing Myth is a great example in this film. In this film particularly, using Seger’s approach to determine which myth is being told was not so difficult.
As you watch this movie you realize the Healing Myth is being told. Freedom Writers is a film that portrays a lot of teens from bad neighborhoods and are involved in gang violence. Some students even experience domestic violence that occurs in their everyday lives. A lot of times, many people identify with most successful films because they live the same stories or all have similar experiences. Seger states, “The universal experience behind these healing stories is our psychological need for rejuvenation, for balance” (373). These students are considered “at-risk youth” and are forced to go to this school or they will get thrown in jail or given probation. It is not until a specific teacher comes to the school and makes a big difference in their lives which makes them whole again.
When the new teacher starts to encourage them and have patience with them they start to be molded and encouraged to change. Instead of Erin Gruwell giving up on her students she inspires them to take an interest in their education and planning their future. Seger claims, “That in order to go through The Healing Myth, most characters have to leave home to become exiled and receptive to love. Love in these stories is both a healing force and a reward” (373). Each student goes through a different journey to become a new and whole person. “In all cases, something is out of balance and the mythic journey moves toward wholeness” (Seger 373).
A myth includes certain characters that we see in many stories. These characters are called archetypes (Seger 375). There are good archetypes, bad archetypes, and tricksters. Seger gives examples of different archetypes in movies such as; The Wizard of Oz from the Good Witch of the North. “They can be thought of as the original “pattern” or “character type” that will be found on the hero’s journey” (Seger 375). In Freedom Writers, Erin Gruwell is a good archetype and finds herself “stuck in a classroom full of troubled teens who are bused in from bad neighborhood. She only has two years of teaching on her belt and is very skeptical about teaching this class because the school’s own administration labels these students as “unteachable” and “illiterate” (Freedom Writers, 2007).
At the beginning of the school year Erin Gruwell struggles due to the fact that most of the students do not trust her and she does not know how to even being to gain their trust. “S/he must overcome a series of obstacles that transform him or her in the process, and then faces the final challenge that draws on inner and outer resources” (Seger 373). Mrs. Gruwell talks to the students on their level and begins to explain about what the Jews went through and the Holocaust. Erin starts to get the students to read different literatures; such as The Diary of Anne Frank, and many others that she feels relates to their lives. The teacher shows the students she has faith in them. Erin Gruwell states, “…. I am not letting you fail. Even if that means coming to your house every night until you finish the work. I see who you are. Do you understand me? I can see you, and you are not failing” (Freedom Writers, 2007).
Erin Gruwell inspired her students to write about their lives every day in a journal and pushed them to move forward in their lives and not look back. Seger also states, “We share in the life journey of growth, development, and transformation” (367). When the students of room 203 realized they had so much more value and meaning in life itself, they grew and transformed into a person with self- confidence, love, and prosperity.
Being able to compare these approaches was very teachable and makes other people think twice about what myths really are and what they are also saying in many films. Director Richard LaGravenese stated, “To me, the whole point was being able to tell a story that showed their lives and how a teacher listened and respected them enough to figure out how to teach them instead of letting them fall through the cracks”. Seger’s approach was very informative on what to look for in different films when it comes to “Creating the Myth”.
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