Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Joanna Drayton returns unexpectedly from Hawaii to announce her engagement to an intelligent, accomplished, world traveling doctor. The only problem with the intended union is that he is African American and she is white. The Drayton's come face to face with their own principles and realize that their daughter is the way they brought her up to be – non-prejudicial. Turmoil and anxiety ensue as Joanna insists that her parents give their approval by the end of the night. A dinner with both sets of parents follows, where the parents must come to terms with the bi-racial marriage. This film gives an insightful look into the realities of interracial marriage and proves to be useful in examining the components of interpersonal relationships.

Communication apprehension is a nervousness, an unwillingness to communicate. It refers to anxiety about communication interaction. People who develop negative feelings and predict negative results as function of engaging in communication interactions suffer from this. John exhibits the afore described apprehension when he communicates with his parents. A specific example from the film would be when he speaks with them on the telephone and tells them about Joanna and his plans to marry her. He chooses to omit the fact that Joanna is white. He avoids telling his parents this because he fears their reaction to the information. He mentions he will write to them on the way to Geneva about the details; however, his plans are foiled when Joanna invites them over to dinner and he is forced to face it head on when they pick them up from the airport.

Joanna puts on a facade of optimism, assuring John that her parents see nothing of color - after all she was brought up under liberal parents who taught her color of skin was nothing of concern. In all actuality she was slightly nervous about exposing the information. She chooses first to tell her mother about the outstanding accomplishments and qualities of John, attempting to get her to accept him for the person he is before revealing to her the seeming minuscule difference. Joanna doesn't actually tell her mother that John is of a different origin before he enters the room, surprising her.

When a culture is transmitted from one generation to another, we call it enculturation. This is a process by which you learn the culture into which you were born. People develop an ethnic identity, a commitment to the beliefs and philosophy of their culture. Parents, religious groups, as well as peer groups can all be teachers of culture.

Tillie, the housekeeper, had a surprising reaction to the situation at hand. When she hears the news of the marriage she pulls John aside and makes several disturbing comments. The first was about, "a member of my own race getting above hisself," and "civil rights is one thing, this something else." Her behavior depicts that she could of been brought up to believe that the white race was above the black race. Her response was different from that of the two sets of parents, whom only seemed concerned due to the external problems the union would induce.

Interpersonal communication tends to be a series of punctuated events. Punctuation is the tendency to divide communication transactions into sequences of stimuli and responses. Usually people punctuate continuous sequences of events into stimuli and responses to make a situation more convenient. How a person punctuates, or interprets a situation is crucial to interpersonal understanding.

John is a practical, intelligent man and foresees the problems that may arise from their interracial marriage. He understands Joanna's parents fears and concerns for their daughter's welfare. He agrees not to go through with the marriage unless they approve. He loves Joanna and desires to marry her, however he doesn't want her to do damage to her relationship with her parents in the process.

The two mothers in...
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