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The Bad Seed and Shawshank Redemption

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  1. Provide a brief synopsis of the movie.

            For Rhoda, killing is just a child’s play.

            Directed by Mervin Leroy, The Bad Seed, is a suspense-thriller movie which revolves around an eight-year old girl named Rhoda Penmark.  The film basically revolves around the long ago debated topic on whether it is the environment that causes criminal impulse or could it be hereditary.

            Rhoda is dearly loved by her army man father and her mother. When her father had to go into another place for his job, she was left in the lone care of her mother, Christine.

Rhoda was known to be a sweet pigtailed little girl who is loved by almost everyone. The only person who believed Rhoda is not actually a good person, is LeRoy. LeRoy is the janitor in their apartment who hardly got into school. He is an uneducated maintenance staff who actually got to see how cruel Rhoda could be.

            Rhoda’s true color was revealed as her classmate, Claude Daigle, was drowned into a lake. Before the incident was the awarding the Best Penmanship award in Rhoda’s school. And Claude got the award and for Rhoda, the award was supposedly hers. LeRoy saw the incident.

            When Rhoda was asked about the incident, she said that Claude the medal for the Best Penmanship Award before Claude died. She played innocent of what has happened.

            Then the next victim was Leroy who confronted Rhoda about the incident where Claude was killed. He presumed that Rhoda used her shoes to kill Claude. Rhoda then burned the place where Leroy was sleeping after the confrontation.

Because of their neighbor’s inclination to theories pertaining to psychiatric theories, Christine begun to remember the memories of her childhood. Christine recounts that she is actually the only living daughter of Bessie Denker (the famous fictional serial killer). She recalls that her mother had killed at least 20 people. Her mother, just like Rhoda, will do anything just to get what she wants—even if its means killing another person. She did not care as long as she would have that she asks for.

It took two killings before Christine actually accepted that her daughter was actually a murderer.

She gave Rhoda several sleeping pills and Christine shot herself.
2. Do you believe that people are `born` criminals?

I think so. Scientific studies reveal that criminal impulses could actually be hereditary. Studies have shown that criminal impulses can be brought by both genes and the environment. A “good environment” cannot actually be an assurance that the “criminal genes” would not take effect. And I think that the scientific research actually happens in real life.
3. Do you think that Rhoda`s mother was in denial and attributed her daughter`s behavior to being `more mature` than other children her age?

Yes, I think Rhoda’s mother was in denial and ended up attributing Rhoda’s demeanor to her being “more mature” than other children of her age. As a mother, I guess, it is but natural to defend your daughter from any unpleasant notions that other people would give about your daughter.

  1. Do you believe that it is possible for parents to overlook the criminal behavior of their children? Why?

I think it is possible for parents to overlook the criminal behavior of their children because their “parental love” over their children overshadows any unpleasant acts that their children would do.

No parent could actually endure the pain of seeing their kids loathed by the society as he she did criminal acts which is of course against the social norms.
5. To what do you attribute Rhoda’s detachment from the killing of Claude Deigle (she kept focusing on getting a sandwich)?

Rhoda was trying to evade the confrontation regarding Claude’s death. She did not want to dig into the issue because of course, she was guilty of it.
6. How would you assess Rhoda’s personality in that she could change from being angry and go to her favorite put-off `what will be give me for a basket full of kisses`?

Rhoda’s personality is actually hard to comprehend. She could easily change from an “evil” one who could practically do anything bad on others (even murdering) into someone who seems fragile, sweet, and loving.

Rhoda did this to deceive the people around her. She did this for the people to cast away all their doubts—if they have them—about her.

  1. At what point was the mother forced to consider that Rhoda was a murderer?

When Christine recounted that her mother was actually a serial killer who could have transferred her “criminal genes” to her daughter, Rhoda. And after she had accepted that it was Rhoda who killed Claude and Leroy.
8. How does Rhoda pull people into her web of deceit?

She would deceit other people by showing lovely and sweet gestures to other people. She would appear loving, sweet, and fragile when other people are around. That is why no one thought that she could actually do that except or Leroy.
9. How would you interpret the look on Rhoda’s face as her mother calls the school?

Rhoda was afraid but redeemed herself by deceiving her mother that she cannot do the crime.
10. Does the handyman (Leroy) really `know` Rhoda? What do you believe to be the purpose of having someone who seems less educated `understand` her as opposed to those who are more educated?

Leroy, of course, “knows” Rhoda. He was the one who was cynic about the demeanor of Rhoda. It is intended, I guess, that an “uneducated” person got to know first the real plight. Because I think the credibility of the person to the other people is not as high compared to those who are more educated.
11. How would you explain the `nature vs. nurture` argument concerning criminality?

The nature vs. nurture argument inclined to criminality tells about the part of genes and environment on the criminal impulse of a person. This argument discusses how genes could actually explain the criminal acts of a person even if he had a “good environment.” While the nurture side claims that criminal impulses are just brought by the kind of environment a person has.
12. How would you explain Rhoda’s failure to accept responsibility for killing Claude?

Rhoda, as expected did not claim the killing of Claude. She was pushed by her wanting to get the best penmanship award. She was also
13. Was the mother justified in attempting to kill Rhoda? Did she commit a crime? If, so, which theory explains it?

Christine attempted to kill Rhoda to prevent her daughter from killing more victims. She did that to save more lives with her daughter’s life at expense, so it is justified. Based on the social norms that we have, yes, she did commit a crime. I think the Control Theory would explain what Christine did. The Control Theory, an extension of the field of psychoanalysis, states that, a threatening behavior of a person is controlled or hindered by another person to avoid greater danger to come.

14. Do you believe that Rhoda cares about her mother’s condition?

I think, in a way, Rhoda cares about her mother’s condition. But then, her criminal impulse would often overshadow her caring.
15. Who do you believe is next to die if Rhoda gets the chance?

I think Christine would be the next victim if she had the chance. It is because Christine was becoming doubtful of her daughter.
16. Is the ending `justice`?

I think it is not proper for Christine to shoot herself. The lives of those who were killed by would not be revived, anyway.
17. Which `theory` do you believe explains Rhoda’s behavior?

The theory of Atavism best explains Rhoda’s behavior. The theory suggests that the criminal impulses of a person could actually be caused by his or her genetic make up. The criminal impulses are the ones which are hereditary but the means of the violence related to its can be caused by the environment.

(3) Compare and contrast the movie with the text book chapter(s) listed.

The movie presented a more conservative form of the “scenes” in the book.

(4)Answer the question: How has this movie supported, enhanced, or changed your view of the criminal justice system?

The movie never really tackled the criminal justice system. It dwelled more in the argument whether criminal impulses are brought about by genes or the environement.
Shawshank Redemption
84. Provide a brief synopsis of the film.

Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

A 1994 movie, the Shawshank Redemption was based on a novel titled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

The film basically tells about a story of an “innocent man in jail” but presented a twist in its angle.

Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, is a prisoner in Shawshank jail convicted a double life sentence for murdering his wife and her lover. Andy was insistent that he is innocent on the crime that happened.

In jail, he became friends with Red who is a prison for a long time.

Andy, before being jailed, was a banker and had a wide knowledge about income taxes and accounting. His knowledge caused him to be at the center stage of the prisons’ attention and eventually of the warden, Norton. His knowledge on finances made him safe form the mistreatment of his fellow prisoners.

But his financial knowledge also caused him to be directly involved in warden Norton’s money-laundering operations.

Andy then met Tommy, the new inmate, and told him that he has met the real person who killed his wife his lover. Andy asked for a new trial but the warden refused to help him.

Andy was sent into a solitary confinement for insisting his demand. One morning, Andy did not get out from his cell for the roll call. The prison guards then checked his cell. And he was not there. They scrutinized the prison cell and found a hole that a man can fit in. He stole a large amount from the Warden.

He escaped from jail and when the police have found him. He shot himself.

  1. How has the prison population changed (regarding demographics and types of crimes) from the 1940`s and 1950`s to today? To what do you attribute that change?
    86. Based on the warden’s and guard’s behavior, why was there a need for prison reform during the 1960`s?

The warden and the guard are taking advantage over the prisoners. The warden is even involved in an illegal business. They system was rotten and it should be reformed

  1. Why did the `fish` crack the first night?

The fish crack the first night because he was beaten by the captain guard after he asked when they would eat.
88. Are the convicted sent to prison `for` punishment or `as` punishment? Explain your answer.

Prisoners are sent to jail “for” punishment. Once you are sent into a prison, it does not necessarily mean that the prisoner is already convicted. They are still under deliberation.
89. What do the cigarettes represent in the prison economy?

The cigarettes represent the money in the prison economy.

  1. What was `Red` running in the prison? What purpose did it serve?

Red was running a “business” inside the prison. He was connected on getting contrabands. When Andy needed his help and he wanted to get contraband, Red allowed him to buy one. The rock hammer that Andy used in escaping.
91. Who were the `sisters`? According to the text, what role does sex play in male prisons?

The sisters were the group of inmates who were committing beatings and rapes even inside the prison cell.
92. Sexual and other types of assaults commonly occur in prisons. Why are the warden and prison guards unable (unwilling?) to stop them?

There are a lot of beatings, ironically gang rapes, and simple rape. The warden and the prison guards are actually unconcerned about it.
93. Brooks (prison librarian) would commit a crime to stay in prison rather than be paroled. Why? What does `institutionalized` mean? In the end, he committed suicide. Why?

Because he thinks that the he cannot live outside the prison since it has nothing good to offer to him. He would prefer staying inside the prison cell. Institutionalized would mean the situation has been accepted in the society. He decided to commit suicide because he said he was tired of always being afraid.

94. What function does a prison library serve? Should prisoners have access to legal and educational materials? Who should foot the bill?

The prison library serves as a help to the prison who want to be educated. I think the prisoners also have the right to have access towards legal and educational materials for them not to remain ignorant of the circumstances that have been unfolding before them.
95. Explain the warden`s `inside-out` program and how it would garner resentment by private citizens engaged in the same type of work.

The warden was involved in a money-laundering program. The warden was avoiding taxes for his illegal business.
96. Should prisoners be forced to provide `free` labor? Why? Why not?

No. I think is not right to force prisoners to provide free labor as it is against their rights. Even if they are put into jail (not all are criminals, actually) they also have the right to be free of any oppression.
97. What should be the state’s responsibility when evidence is found that exonerates an inmate?

The inmate should be immediately sent out of jail. And give the inmate the compensation, in whatever form, which he or she deserves.
98. Why wouldn’t the warden want to assist Andy secure a new trial?

Because the warden does not want to lose the assistance on his financial matters that he gets from Andy.
99. What happens when justice is denied, as in Andy’s case? Did the system `make` Andy commit the crime of prison breach (escape)?

The denial of justice only pushed Andy to commit the crime of prison breach. Because of the injustice that had happened, Andy had no choice but to escape.
100. Did you smile when the hole in the wall in Andy’s cell was discovered? Why?

No. In fact, I felt nervous when the hole was discovered.
101. If Andy or Red are ever caught, should they be charged with their `new` crimes (Andy, prison breach; Red, parole violation)?

I don’t think so. The system is rotten. They did not do anything wrong. It was the system which “committed” crime.
102. What should we do with prisoners who have been in prison for 30, 40, 50 or more years?

They should be subject to parole. But it depends on how they did inside the prison.
103. Does prison rehabilitate? Explain.

Yes. A prison can also redeem himself. A life in the prison would not mean not having the chance to restore and cast away all the prejudice that the society has given you.

(3) Compare and contrast the movie with the text book chapter(s) listed.

            There situations that are not the same in the movie and in the book. Like the ending, Andy did not die in the end and Red followed Andy in Mexico, it was different on what happened in the film.

 (4)Answer the question: How has this movie supported, enhanced, or changed your view of the criminal justice system?

            I think the movie just underscored my notion that the criminal justice system could never be trusted (based on Shawshank Redemption). The rotten system of the criminal justice system was exposed by the film.


Wikipedia website. Date retrieved: April 3, 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shawshank_Redemption>

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