Analysis of The Protagonist of 'Pay It Forward' Movie Through The Theory of Attachment

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1941 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Jul 7, 2022

Words: 1941|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Jul 7, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Developmental Stage
    Transaction with Environment
    Socio-cultural challenges
  3. Theoretical Framework
  4. Self-Identity
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


The character name is Trevor McKinney for this assignment from the movie Pay it Forward. The character is in Erik Erikson’s late school-age stage which is the fourth stage industry vs inferiority. The theory that will be using John Bowlby’s Attachment theory.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Developmental Stage

Travis was in adolescence development stage according to Erikson when he was facing the socio-cultural issue and it is the fourth stage of development and has aged from six to eleven. According to Newman, their central process is under peer-pressure as it is direct influence by peers and individuals follow them by changing their attitudes and Travis's physio-social crisis is industry vs inferiority.

As Travis was eleven years old so Erikson's development stage is applied to Travis as late school stage and is suffering from peer pressure and passing through the industry vs inferiority psychosocial crisis. Travis was alone and had nobody to talk about, he had no friend in the movie and spent most of the time roaming around Las Vegas on his bike as his mother had to do two jobs for a living. Though he was intelligent and was active in class discussions. He started to like his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet after he gave them an assignment on how they can make the world better with an idea. The peer pressure became more prominent when he met Eugene Simonet who was unmarried and much older than Travis. The idea Travis gave to change the world was new that Simonet never heard of so he encouraged his idea of paying it forward which demonstrates the central pressure of peer pressure.

Transaction with Environment

To understand properly the character of Travis and his problems it is necessary to know his current situation. Trevor McKinney is an 11 year old living with his mother who is alcoholic and lives in Las Vegas. His mother had to do two occupations to help her child however feels that she will lose this fight. Trevor is a lock key child who regularly needs to deal with himself. His spirits are lifted as a result when on the main day of school his new school teacher Eugene Simonet assigned the task to think about a plan to change our reality and put it energetically. Whereas the remainder of the class experiences difficulty while Trevor understands that he presently has been given an ethical experience.

The vigorous and hopeful child chooses he will do something beneficial for three individuals, something they can't accomplish for themselves, and afterward will solicit everyone from them to show proactive kindness by doing likewise troublesome enormous favors for three others. Trevor starts by assisting drug addict Jerry. He gives him place for a night, an opportunity to wash up, and some cash so the individual can take care of business and search for a vocation. When his mother found about she became angry and curious how his son was caught up with this man, but Jerry told her that they have discussions and shared the idea of paying it forward which he then explained to her mother. This showed that Travis had no one to talk with and he ended up talking with someone living on streets which his mother realized and let Jerry have their discussions continue

Trevor's subsequent crucial to uniting the desolate Eugene with his mom. Just issue is that the two of them must arrangement with old tapes of dread, self-uncertainty, and absence of confidence. Trevor's physically injurious and alcoholic dad came all the way back one day pretending that he became sober. Travis had nightmares being as a child because his father used to beat his mom when he drunk and was not very affectionate to him, so he feared that when his father came back he will end up in that situation again. The kid's third task is to assist a feeble colleague at school who is continually being assaulted by bullies. Trevor's idea was act of moral beauty which was based on idea of kindness and helping other. It proclaimed a person can make a small difference in the world by doing well with the others. And it reveals that we might never feel the effects of that kindness but all of the world's religions agrees that the reward is in the act itself. All these great deeds showed that Travis had a good heart and wanted to change the world.

Socio-cultural challenges

According to Lamont and Lareau, the socio-cultural level has certain sets of preferences and behavior that defines our way of life and are dependent on the social and cultural norms of family. Travis's parent's separation from an alcoholic father that have left him and his mother also being alcoholic who had two jobs to support her living. Moreover, he had no one to talk about or discuss his issues are socio-cultural issues that he is facing. Parents that have drinking problems have an adverse effect on their children both socially and psychologically there is a higher danger of creating externalizing issues like hostility, misconduct and a lack of ability to concentrate consistently are major issues among children of alcoholics indicators of. A few examinations have moreover noticed the development of anxiety and depression among children. According to Conner, there is a greater risk of developing the depressive disorder in children having alcoholic parents. Travis had a similar case as her mother was an alcoholic working late at night and had no time for Travis as he was alone and had no one to share his feelings, that's why he had a discussion with Jerry who was living on streets. This showed how much he was neglected by his mother and had no friend so he was alone and need somebody to talk to about him.

One day he had an argument with his mother when he tried to patch up between his mother and social studies teacher Simonet. He talked about all the issues he is facing that being neglected, having a drunk mother. At that time Arlene lost his control and slapped Travis, after that she went to drink alcohol again and soon realized that his son was not in the home, she called Simonet to help her find her son. Simonet had been through similar trauma in his childhood so he knew that Trevor will try to leave this place so they went to the station where they found Travis. Her mother explained that she is been trying to change herself and her habit of drinking for which she needs Travis's help. As Travis always feels neglected this was the first time when he had really hugged her mother in the entire movie which makes sense as he always wants that attention from somebody. Everything was running smoothly his mother and Simonet came close to each other and Travis was happy. But one day his father came back home claiming that he is sober now, his mother falls again in his trap and told Simonet that she wanted to give him more chance. This made Simonet furious, but sooner Arlene realized that he was the same person when he drunk again and tried to beat Travis when she came to rescue him. All these were the socio-cultural issues that Travis was suffering from.

Theoretical Framework

Attachment theory was formulated by John Bowlby and he explained that connection is a profound and suffering enthusiastic bond that associates one individual to another over time. Attachment doesn't need to be complementary and one can have a connection to a person that is not shared. The connection is described by explicit practices in kids, for example, looking for vicinity to the connection figure when vexed or compromised. Attachment theory explains how the parent-children relationship develops and has impacts on their relationship. John Bowlby proposed connection theory to clarify the association between the conduct of child and parental figure and how it can affect a youngster's conduct. The most applicable elements of a connection figure for a child from transformative, social, and individual viewpoints are secure places for a child. The key to emotional security is its communication with an attachment figure when he became distressed. Attachment style depends on the child and its attachment with his parents and that relationship will carry out through life. Attachment is a key fundamental in child early stages of development and had been studied by Bowlby.

Lately, inquire about has extended to look at the impact of connection on the psychological wellness and socio-enthusiastic advancement of small kids and their on-going alteration into youth. The experiment had proved that attachment has an effect on children's mental, social and emotional development. In the event that an individual doesn't have a protected connection to their essential parental figure during outset, there is a solid possibility that they will battle with cozy connections during immaturity and adulthood since they are not ready to rely upon somebody other than themselves because of absence of consideration, care, or trust during earliest stages.

This attachment theory is applied to Travis as he was suffering from attachment issues as he was unable to develop an attachment with either of his parents as both were alcoholic and was a victim of parental abuse. That stage was crucial for emotional attachment with his parent which couldn't happen so he felt alone all the time and had nobody to discuss his issues, problems, and feelings. Therefore in the movie when Simonet gave the task to think an idea that could change the world, he became friendly with some stranger called Jerry who was living on streets. He took him to his house and offered him a place to live. They both had discussions and discuss the idea to pay it forward instead of paying it back.


Travis's self-identity changed when his mother and Simonet were close together, which previously was more like spending more time lonely and had to bear the alcoholic mother. But they became close together Travis was happier and seems to enjoy by watching television together and going out with them, as he doesn't feel neglected and have someone whom he can attach and share his problems.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.


Trevor McKinney was in Erikson's late school stage and experience the socio-cultural issue of being an alone and alcoholic mother and the theory that was applied was John Bowlby's Attachment theory.


  • Bowlby J. (1969). Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic Books.
  • Eiden, R.D., Molnar, D.S., Colder, C., Edwards, E.P., Leonard, K.E., 2009. A conceptual model predicting internalizing problems in middle childhood among children of alcoholic and non-alcoholic fathers: the role of marital aggression. J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 70 (5), 741–750.
  • Grossmann, K., & Grossmann, K. E. (2019). Essentials when studying child-father attachment: A fundamental view on safe haven and secure base phenomena. Attachment & human development, 1-6.
  • Joeng, J. R., Turner, S., Young Kim, E., Ae Choi, S., Jeong Lee, Y., & Ki Kim, J. (2017). Insecure attachment and emotional distress: Fear of self‐compassion and self‐compassion as mediators. Personality and Individual Differences, 112, 6– 11.
  • Kamarajan, C., Pandey, A.K., Chorlian, D.B., Manz, N., Stimus, A.T., Bauer, L.O., et al., 2015. Reward processing deficits and impulsivity in high-risk offspring of alcoholics: a study of event-related potentials during a monetary gambling task. Int. J. Psychophysiol. 98 (2), 182–200.
  • Lam, L. T., Rai, A., & Lam, M. K. (2019). Attachment problems in childhood and the development of anxiety in adolescents: A systematic review of longitudinal and prospective studies. Mental Health & Prevention.
  • M. Lamont, A. Lareau, Cultural capital: allusions, gaps and glissandos in recent theoretical developments, Sociol. Theory 6 (1988) 153–168.
  • Mukhtar, S. (2019). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory in the Counseling Process of Adult’s Anxiety. J Emerg Trauma Care, 3(3), 3.
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2008). Code of Ethics. Retrieved September 28, 2017 from
Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Analysis of the Protagonist of ‘Pay it Forward’ Movie Through the Theory of Attachment. (2022, July 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from
“Analysis of the Protagonist of ‘Pay it Forward’ Movie Through the Theory of Attachment.” GradesFixer, 07 Jul. 2022,
Analysis of the Protagonist of ‘Pay it Forward’ Movie Through the Theory of Attachment. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Feb. 2024].
Analysis of the Protagonist of ‘Pay it Forward’ Movie Through the Theory of Attachment [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Jul 07 [cited 2024 Feb 27]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now