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American Beauty - Paper

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American Beauty - Paper

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  • October 2012
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American Beauty
In the movie “American Beauty” there is a list of interpersonal conflicts. Lester and Carolyn Burnham are a seemingly ordinary couple in an anonymous suburban neighborhood, whose marriage and lives are slowly unraveling. They both have become so distant but remain together to keep up appearances. This relationship shows all the factors that Daniel Dana considers being a conflict. “Two people are independent; they each need something from the other, both parties blame the other or find fault with them for causing the problem, one or more of the parties is angry or emotionally upset, the parties’ behaviors are affecting their relationship with each other and/or their relationships with others.”(Dana, 2000) In the movie there are many conflicts but the interpersonal conflict that stands out is that between Lester and Carolyn.

The conflict between Lester and Carolyn is hard to ignore. They have stopped communicating effectively to one another. Lester is a middle aged man, whom sees no satisfaction in his life anymore. Carolyn is a middle aged woman, whom only shows her satisfaction, but it is a mask; to make it seem that she is happy. Lester, at first, seems to have a passive communication style, compared to Carolyn’s aggressive communication style. In the narration from Lester in the beginning of the film; he seems to be tired of his life and how it is going. They live in a big white house with a red door and a white picket fence; living the American dream. Unfortunately it is anything but. They have a daughter Jane who Lester believes he has failed.

One night, Lester and Carolyn go to one of her work functions. Almost immediately they go their own ways at the function. Carolyn is being entertained by the “King” of real estate, drinking. While Lester has found himself outside with the new neighbor boy Ricky Fitts, smoking the illicit drug marijuana. When they go home and are in bed, their problems come to fruition. At this...