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The Character Development of Antwone Fischer

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    The Character Development of Antwone Fischer

    Antwone Fischer is a movie that narrates the true life story of the American author, director and film producer Antwone Quenton Fisher. The story of his life was written by him in his autobiographical work entitled Finding Fish which inspired the direction of the movie that narrates the painful life journey of Antwone and his struggle to overcome the psychological and physical abuse of his childhood that ultimately influenced his personal growth. The journey of his life with all the emotional, physical and cognitive hardships greatly impacted the shaping of his adult identity.

    The film is about an American sailor who starts experiencing memory flashbacks and begins remembering his abusive childhood after being sent to a naval psychologist. Like any other person who comes unwillingly in contact with a psychologist Antwone refused at first to open up emotionally but the strong facade suddenly breaks when he lets his memories of his childhood take over him. The negative thoughts and feelings that he had been walking with for a long time finally take their toll and Antwone finds himself in need of help to overcome his traumatic experience with his foster mother and her daughter. This could only be achieved if he was willing to go confront his past and the flashbacks start that clarify his shaky emotional state more. The foster mother he grew up with as a child used to physically abuse him while her daughter took sexually advantage of him as a six year old child whenever the mother left them alone. With the help of the naval psychologist and his strong will Antwone is able to confront his emotional past and reveal the situations, events and people that affected his life span development and shaped his present identity. He is also able to recognize the necessity of overcoming his past through starting a new life which is why he decides to try and find his family with the help of his psychologist. (Rad)

    The fact is that people go through various stages throughout the time of their life span development. Scientists divide the time of life span development into eight phases. The journey of humans starts with pregnancy and ends with death. In between there is the time of childhood, child development that includes the period of infancy and early childhood, sexuality and sexual problems, homosexuality and bisexuality and aging. (Dombeck)

    From the first moment of conception until the second of the death a person is in constant change and development. The changes that affect an individual’s life are largely caused by the events and people that particular person experiences or comes in touch with throughout his life. Antwone in this case was mostly affected by his foster mother and her daughter’s abusive treatment because of both the timing and form of abuse. The emotional trauma that was caused by their inhumanly cruel and insensitively irresponsible behavior obstructed his emotional and psychological growth since one of the parts of his lifespan development was severely hindered which as a result obstructed the healthy growth of the other phases.

    The movie of Antwone Fischer explores the moral and psychological dilemmas that lead Antwone to seek help to overcome these traumatic events that he suppressed throughout his life in order to forget about. Suppression of the thoughts did however not solve the issues that rose as a consequence of the emotional conflicts that he experienced as a child struggling to overcome two forms of inhuman abuse: physical and sexual harassment from two of the closest people around him. This not only led him to lose trust in the goodness of humanity and acquire a cynical perspective towards life and people in general but made him emotionally incapable of letting people close which logically affected the forms of relationships he engaged in and made him his whole life feel like an outsider.

    Antwone Fisher seeks an outlet to his dilemma because he could no longer live with the burden of the memories and feelings he had carried along with him throughout his life. Freud also explores this notion of psychological development and has applied it specifically to children and infants to observe the effects of events experienced during those times on the development of the adult persona later on. Freud examined the changes that can affect the process of lifespan development and in Antwone’s case this means that his abuse affected his idea of moral understanding and social personality. It also impacted his emotional development and this is nowhere better illustrated than in how he crashed down after pretending for a long time to be fine which he obviously was not despite believing to be. Oppression of negative feelings does not mean that those emotions disappear but they actually keep growing unconsciously affecting the choices and thought process development of a person throughout his life time. This can lead to very negative things if it is not dealt with correctly which is why Antwone eventually decides to open up and seek salvation through facing his past and starting a new life.

    The whole process of identity formation is thus based on a healthy development of all the lifespan phases. Development psychology also discusses how the extent and type of knowledge that a person comes in contact with, impacts the identity formation process. In Antwone’s case this meant that his early memories were about the exploitation he was subjected to from his foster mother and her daughter. The movie addresses the issues of pain and rage and their effects on the human persona, illustrated through Antwone. The film manages to capture the tale of a human journey in the most expressive and stunning manner possible. This is because the audience will find itself captivated by the thought of how a person’s whole identity and life can be impacted by just one or two single events in his life.

    Antwone Fischer’s character is understandably enough characterized by lack of confidence, rage and lack of attention to good social conduct at the beginning of the movie. The flashbacks that provide an insight into his shockingly abusive past clarify the reasons behind his attitude more. This is why he refused to let go of his guard with his naval psychologist at the beginning of the story. He lost much of his trust in people because he was exploited by the people that should have taken the best care of him. It follows hat he would not be able to grasp why others would do better. His earliest memories shaped who he became later on as an adult which is the only logical outcome of psychological human development.

    The flow of events in his adult life and his attempt to confront his past set the stage for the behavioral, emotional and mental development of Antwone. The audience will fin it easy to sympathize with Antwone because the main theme is universal and humans’ journey to face their internal demons and overcome their emotional problems is not a story of one person but a tale that is part of human history since its beginning. The story of Antwone like that of any other person, includes both moments of pain and suffering as well as times of emotional and cognitive victories which is why the changes in his personality take a positive form as the movie advances.

    John W. Santrock examined the issue of human development further in his book Life Span Development. Santrock asks the simple but fundamental question of ‘‘How did Ted Kaczynski become Ted Kaczynski and Alice Walker become Alice Walker?’’ at the beginning of the book and the same question can be asked in relation to Antwone. The answer to this question has been to a certain extent answered in Antwone’s regard but that does nevertheless not lessen its significance in this discussion of why people turn out the way they do and should to be asked more and more to grasp the journey of human development to its fullest extent.

    Antwone Fisher is a captivating tale about human development and the effects of people and their behavior on the growth and emotional stability of a person many years later on. A failure or an inadequacy to address the concerns that arise as a consequence of the psychological problems that result from abuse leads usually to a development of a character characterized by anger, lack of trust, cynicism, or in worse cases the growth of a persona that seeks revenge through subjecting others to the same act. The psychological interpretations of this are diverse and need a different paper to go adequately in dept about. What is interesting and important to note is that any human being like Antwone needs to fully deal with the trauma experienced to be able to move on towards a better life. This is what Antwone managed to do in the movie with the help of his psychologist and this also the reason behind the positive change that his character underwent. The difference between angry and suspicious Antwone at the beginning of the story and emotionally victorious Antwone at the end of the movie is huge and worth of extra admiration. I have therefore found myself captivated with the story and with the brave emotional fight he put up to survive his traumatic past. His strong and relentless attitude to face his fears and overcome them for a chance of being a better human being and enjoying a better life is without doubt a lesson and an inspiration for humans around the world.


        Bennett, R. (2003, July). ANTWONE FISHER (Film). Sound & Vision, 68(6), 101. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from Academic Search Complete database.

    Dombeck, M. Introduction  to Lifespan Development. Accessed on July 31, 2009

                Santrock, JW. (2006) Life-Span Development. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill Publishers.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

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    How much of Antwone Fisher is true?
    Antwone Fisher is a real person who was working as a studio guard when, in one of those twists of fate that seems to happen regularly in the movies, but so rarely in real life, his story came to the attention of a producer who set him up with an office and helped him write a script.
    What happened in Antwone Fisher?
    Antwone Fisher trailer. A sailor (Derek Luke) prone to violent outbursts is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood during which he was abused in foster care.
    What is Antwone Fisher known for?
    Antwone Fisher is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Finding Fish: a memoir, (Harper Collins) The National Bestselling book of Poetry, Who Will Cry For The Little Boy?, (William Morrow) and the award winning self-improvement instructional book, A Boy Should Know How To Tie A Tie and Other Lessons for ...

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