American History X

In the scene where Dr. Sweeney visited Derek in prison to update him of Danny’s regression in school, it signified that despite their contradicting racial roots both still agreed to forward a common cause which is to secure a better future for Danny. Meanwhile, in the opening scene of the movie, Danny and Dr. Sweeney where having a confrontation about Danny’s racist paper. This particular scene showed that Dr. Sweeney who is perceived by Danny as an enemy because of his color and position as an authority figure can initiate change to a person who is closed-minded.

Though Danny and Derek have the same genes and grew up in the same environment, both characters have developed contrasting point of views at the latter part of the movie. This illustrated that personal convictions and mind-set can be altered once a person is exposed to a new condition or situation. As for the symbolic interaction between Derek and Murray, similarities in race does not guarantee a harmonious relationship. Derek’s animosity with Murray is not rooted on discrimination but it was based on his desire to protect his family and preserve his father’s image.

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2. How would differential association explain the progression from conformity to deviance for (A) Derek (B) Danny. Prior to the tragic death of their father, Derek and Danny were normal in the sense that they did not have any erroneous feelings towards other people. This incident was exploited by a supremacist who preached about the domination of the white race. Because Derek and Danny would mostly hang out with other people who have the same ideals as a supremacist, they changed their ideology and lifestyle dramatically.
The modification in their behavior from being carefree to being a racist and selective have pushed them to commit racial crimes like thrashing a convenient store of a foreign immigrant and mercilessly killing a black man. Derek from being a typical suburban boy became a leader of a racist group. As for Danny, he acquired his dislike for minority groups from his brother. He looked up at Derek like he was his father. Since Danny idolized his brother, he imitated all his actions and beliefs regardless of whether it is right or wrong. 3. What was communicated from Derek to Danny?
Derek greatly influenced his brother. When he tried to change the world by degrading other people, Danny supported him. But when Derek tried to undo what he had done to his brother, Danny was hesitant. However, at the end of the movie, Danny made a conclusion through his paper that differences should not impose conflict because in the end people are all the same and the idea of coexisting harmoniously is not far fetched because every human being has his/her innate good nature. 4. Derek is progressing out of deviance while Danny is becoming deviant.
Why? (Use differential association to explain) According to Edwin Sutherland, a criminologist, deviance is manifested when a person sees a specific situation as a suitable opportunity to break the law or conventional beliefs. More so, through a person’s personal historical accounts based on previous associations with other people, a situation is defined (cited in Florida State University, 2008, “Differential Association Theory”). In the movie, Derek changed from being a racist to an open-minded person because of his experiences in jail.
His preconceived notions about supremacist ideals were not upheld inside the dog eat dog world of the penal system. In his dismay, he fostered a close relationship with a black man and realized that the color of the skin of a person does not dictate one’s capabilities and traits. Since Derek’s awakening, he changed his attitude and focused more on eminent issues such as the reconstruction of his broken family. When Derek’s was having an enlightenment, Danny was immersing himself to a deviant life.
This was made possible because Danny’s life revolved around an exclusive group whose ideals were centered on racism. His knowledge of what is right or wrong and good or bad were based on the activities that happened within his group. Since most of his friends saw every situation as a chance to violate laws and the norms, they committed several crimes. By mere association, Danny is engulfed in the deviant system of his group. References “Differential Association Theory. ” 2008. Florida State University. 19 March 2008 <http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/sutherland. html>.

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