BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4--1999

Good Will Hunting by Gus Van Sant

Will parallels Holden Caulfield in some ways: he does not wish for academic success, he is resentful towards his family, and he makes life unnecessarily hard for himself just so he won't have to let other people in. He pushed his girlfriend away when she tried to get too close, he pushed his mentor away, he pushed his job offers away, anything that would seem to give him happiness he pushed away, so he would not become emotionally inovlved. Holden was different from Will, though, because he was not ordered by the court to go to a therapist, but instead had to have a breakdown. Will is what one might call a success story.

Will became a more educated person by becoming aware of his feelings and being able to open up.

Will has so much potential in both the academic and the emotional realms, yet he is paralyzed by fear and unable to make the leap into the uncertainty of an adult career and a loving relationship. We watch him on the verge of great success and happiness. He can get a lucrative job with the help of Professor Lambeau. He has a girlfriend who is beautiful and intelligent and loves him. Yet he is so afraid that he will fail, that he doesn't deserve what rewards he has within his reach, so fearful of anything different that disrupts his static cocoon of South Boston and Chuckie and all that he loves.

Whenever I watch Good Will Hunting, I for some reason get this warm feeling inside. I realize that it is an overall sad movie about the life of a confused yet extremely intelligent young man. But, he has some things in life that many would be very jealous of. Besides his overpowering academic ability, he has true friends.

I think there is a huge comparison to be made between the characters in the books we have studied, especially Holden Caulfield and Will. This movie is a modern day Catcher in the Rye. In the 1990s, psychiatrists are the solutions, not mental hospitals. Though Holden is not a prodigy, he is an intelligent person, especially in writing, who has never been challenged or engaged in school. Will is afraid to get close to Skyla in the same way Holden is afraid to call Jane. Both of these boys use expletive language and do things such as drink which are far beyond their age. Yet both have put up walls which make them appear immature. The main difference is the socio-economic one--Will is from South Boston and works as a janitor, where Holden is from a wealthy family. However, the personality is the same.

By the conclusion of the film, each of the primary characters learns something from another character that changes who they are.

The film perfectly complements our class's study of "Becoming an Educated Person" by emphasizing the need for the individual to live life in order to learn.

Just like Mr. Medouze in Sugar Cane Alley, and the character played by Robin Williams, all of us need a mentor-like figure in life to teach us what in the world this crazy place called reality is all about. Such an education is equal to if not as essential as a formal one.