top-rated free essay

Steel Magnolias

By riosoftball_chick106 May 13, 2015 1534 Words

The Lovely Pink Passing: A Film Project on Steel Magnolias
Abigail Seale
University of Texas Pan American

In the film, Steel Magnolias, death isn’t apparent till near the ending of the film. The awareness of death isn’t present till Shelby actually passes away and even then her mother M’lynn tries to hold on until there is no longer any hope. Also, the cast mates Truvy, the hair salon owner, Annelle, her worker, Clairee, former first Lady of town, and Quiser, the cranky one are all friends who help M’lynn cope with the passing of her daughter. Shelby was diagnosed with diabetes and told she shouldn’t have babies. As a result of her pregnancy she was left with a failing kidney and needed a transplant. M’lynn was a match and they had the procedure, but unfortunately Shelby still passes away after being held on life support for serval days. Throughout the film, Shelby is depicted as a vibrant young women who wanted a baby more than anything evening risking her own life in order to reproduce with her husband Jackson. Thus, why M’lynn was always worrying about her daughters health and well-being she wanted to outlive her.

Death anxiety is first demonstrated when Shelby tells her mother she is pregnant. M’lynn is very much aware of the high risk Shelby is taking due to her medical history. This pregnancy can potentially be life threatening. Kastenbaum (2011), mentions how “transitional situations often lead to a spike in death anxiety” which is evident for M’lynn (Pg. 23). Shelby displays denial in a sense that she “rejects certain key features of reality in attempt to avoid or reduce anxiety (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 19). As a result, Shelby is able to put herself in a life threatening situation in order to have a baby which would make her the happiest woman in the world. In the film Shelby, says she would rather have thirty minutes of a special moment than live a lifetime of having nothing special occur in her life. Selective attention can also be seen in Shelby instead of “directing” her attention to her illness she focuses on the main aspects of her life (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg.26). The character Annelle when Shelby passes is able to use “The Existential Challenge” when she is explain her theory about how Shelby is now a “guardian angel with God” and she is in a better place. Annelle is providing a “belief system supported by rituals and symbols that produce a sense of coherence, predictability and meaning” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 24). M’lynn appreciates her kind words, but then again in time of grieving no words can take the pain away.

The setting of the film presents tight knit community where everyone knows everyone in relation to the death system “the subtle network of relationships and meanings through which on sphere of action influences another” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 77) An example shown in the film, is how Shelby’s death influences the lives of Annelle and Spud. Annelle wants to name her new born baby after Shelby because she is the reason her and Sammy met. Spud feels bad for Jackson and how he lost his wife. This allows him to truly appreciate Truvy and start treating her differently becoming more active in her life and the community’s events. A function of the death system: “preventing death” is illustrated when M’lynn gives her kidney to Shelby “to prevent death” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg.81) M’lynn seems incapable of “making sense of death” which is part of the death system. According to Kastenbaum (2011), “making sense of death becomes an especially high-priority activity for us when a death undermines the basic way in which we interpret the world” (Pg. 85) For M’lynn her understanding was she should have gone first than Shelby, she was ready to go first and that was supposed to happen. Since this was, an unexpected death, its most definitely shook up the “guided assumptions about life” which are installed in us by our society” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 85). For instance, M’lynn suggest how is Jackson Jr. going to know what kind of person she was and what she did in order for him to have a life. The “social consolidation after death” for the impact of Shelby’s passing is positive it allows M’lynn, Clairee, Quiser, and Annelle to form tighter bonds supporting each other.

Funeral-related customs in the film are evident on the day the decision was made to take Shelby off life support. M’lynn immediately says to call the nicest funeral home in town and tells Jackson to get Shelby’s favorite pink suite. “The ventilator” as mentioned by Kastenbaum (2011) is what was removed from Shelby and Jackson was the one who signed in order to “pull the plug” (pg. 274) It was removed because there was nothing else the doctors could do for Shelby and like M’lynn said there was no more hope. M’Lynn needed to respect the death of Shelby in order to go on with her life “feelings and issues aroused by death” need to be settled “amicably” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 381). “Survivors Responsibilities After a Death” is observed by the women when the funeral process allows them to “express their affection for the deceased and support each other during the period of acute grief (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 388). This can be sceen, in the scene when M’lynn is the last one standing the side of Shelby’s casket and all the women decide to go be by her side. The final Easter scene, when everyone is laughing and having good time is a prime example of “Getting on with Life”. It’s a “festive occasion” where the attention of the women and community is directed in the “renewal of life” meaning the focus on the children and the future (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 394.). Although, everyone is rejoicing Shelby is still in their minds, but everyone is in a much better place. Even, confirms that at the end of the movie Jackson Jr. running to the arms of his grandmother is the “part where I always breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that everyone will be okay, even though they're still reeling from the grief of losing a loved one” (2011). Bereavement is represented when Shelby is unexpectedly taken away from her mother, her husband and her son. Based on the definition of bereavement “conveyed the ideas of tearing apart, a forcible separation that results in the loss of something we once had…that “something is a vital and perhaps sustaining relationship” (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg.342). M’lynn’s relationship with Shelby was really important to her even for her own life it was almost as if her daughter was everything to her. Shelby’s passing “changed the status” for Jackson he’s now a widower (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg.342). Grief isn’t defined precisely which is understandable because everybody deals with death in their own way and there isn’t a right or wrong way to deal with death. Kastenbaum (2011), states grief can include “indifference” and “anger” (Pg. 343). M’lynn exhibits a lot anger and confusion as to why her daughter passed away. Normal grief can be attributed to M’lynn’s reaction to because it stays within the cultural boundaries (Kastenbaum, 2011, Pg. 350). The way M’lynn is able to cope her daughter’s passing is because of her support system which women typically have as compared to men. Luckily, for the men like Drum and Spud they still have their wives who can support in this time of need. As for as the mourning process all main characters mourned Shelby’s death. Even Quiser, who is always in a bad mood and angry at the world showed emotion and concern when Shelby was sick and when she passed. In the film, it’s interesting how M’lynn applies gender roles of how men and women are supposed to grieve when someone passes. M’lynn was shocked that was the lasting one standing since Drum and Jackson left before she did. She even says “men are supposed to be made of steel…” But grieving and mourning is universal and experienced by everyone in their own way. Like says “you just want to make sense of such a tragic loss but you know deep down it'll always be something you fail to understand” (2011).

Steel Magonlias is good example of how not only someone but a group of close women can experience the highs and lows of life. What I learned about how people deal with in class is seen in the film which is good real life representation of death, society and human experience. Death was the death of Shelby, the society which was all the characters of the film and the human experience was the reactions of how they dealt with the passing as well as how they overcame the pain to feel happy again.

Kastenbaum, R. (2011). Death, Society and Human Experience (11th ed.). Pearson. “Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something…” (2011, December 8). Retrieved May 6, 2015. from Stark, R. (Producer), & Ross H. (Director). (1989). Steel Magnolias [Film]. United States: Tristar Pictures.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Steel Magnolias Theater Review

    ...In my theater class I was given the assignment of having to write a critical review of the play "Steel Magnolias," by Robert Harling. So on the Wednesday before the holiday weekend (Rosh-Ha-Shana) I decided to make the trip over to the Hand Chapel on the Mount Vernon Campus, to see this play that I had already convinced myself was going to be d...

    Read More
  • Steel Magnolias Movie Analysis

    ... Steel Magnolias is a great movie of love, laughter, and tears. It features six strong-willed woman who "are the Steel Magnolias of the tittle…” as Roger Ebert says. The women dealt with many set backs in life, but no matter what they kept their southern grace and charm in tact at all times. In the film one of the main set backs is Shelby...

    Read More
  • Analytical Look Into the Religious Motif in Magnolia

    ...Seriously; an Analytical Look into the Religious Embellishments of the Film Magnolia Outline: Magnolia Essay: * Thesis: This essay will argue that the true meaning behind this film is a religious enlightenment to Exodus 8:2 and will aim to dissect the meaning behind the rain of amphibians and analyze the content of the film to argue such....

    Read More
  • Steel and Corrosion

    ... v. 2, p. 417.) Considers theory of rusting, especially of protective metal coatings, and of the influence of manganese in the rusting of steel.  Alford, H. Carroll: Corrosion of iron and its prevention. 2,200 w. 1901. (In Proceedings of the St. Louis Railway Club, v. 5, April 12, p. 9.) Theory of rust formation and preventive measures. ...

    Read More
  • Reinforcing Steel

    ...REINFORCING STEEL: Reinforced concrete was designed on the principle that steel and concrete act together in resisting force. Concrete is strong in compression but weak in tension. The tensile strength is generally rated about 10 percent of the compression strength. Steel is the best material for reinforcing concrete because the properties of ...

    Read More
  • How Steel Changed America

    ...How Steel changed America One of the greatest discovers that transformed cities to what they are now is steel industry. The rise of the steel industry in the United States drove America's growth as a world economic power. “The industrialization of America made steel the number-one selling product. Steel was used in the construction and mainte...

    Read More
  • Pestle Analysis of TATA Steel

    ...Analysis of Tata Steel Tata Steel, established in 1907, is one of the world’s most geographically diversified steel producers, with operations in 26 countries and commercial offices in over 35 countries. Tata Steel, part of the Tata group, based in Mumbai, has exploits in various categories including tea, automobiles, communications, ...

    Read More
  • Management and Steel Industry

    ...1. List and elaborate some strategic issues facing NUCOR. Key strategic issues challenging NUCOR include legislation related to climate change, fluctuating cost and supply of iron ore and scrap steel, increasing amount of steel imports, production technology improvements and economic weakness. Changes in legislation could have severe impact...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.