"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Self and Society portion of the core requirements were my favorite and was one of the factors leading to my decision to go in to the field of Sociology. The courses in this domain taught me how to identify the basic values and assumptions of different social groups, and then to compare them with my own background. This theme of analysis is extremely relevant to my Sociology major and taught me the skills I would need to succeed in it.
I have chosen this writing sample to exemplify the skills I learned for analyzing a group that I am not a member of. This is one of four papers we had to complete at the end of every movie block. Taken in my freshmen year this was the first time I ever analyzed movies and books together.
The movie Casablanca is set in the beginning stages of world war two in French Casablanca, despite the Germans taking France and its territories; Casablanca is still primarily ruled by the French. As the audience watches the people of Casablanca most of whom are refugees seeking freedom from the oppression of the Nazis; struggle to attain freedom the movie seems to be lacking real men, that is until the end. The main character Rick appears to be a “quiche eater” until the last few minutes; the same goes for Captain Renault. As the movie is also filled with countless other “quiche eaters” the real men are able to shine throughout; Victor Lazarus is a welcomed addition from his first scene his manhood can’t be questioned. Victor Laszlo’s wife Ilsa is also one of the pivotal characters of this film who help define the real men from the “quiche eaters” however unlike other characters found in the Wild West Block her real man status isn’t confirmed. It’s Major Strasser the most influential “quiche eater” of the movie that allows the other characters to grow to their full real man potential.
From the start it is easy for the audience to see that Rick commands a sort of attention that you would expect of a real man however the real man act quickly dissipates to the reality of the situation; the act of Rick. The owner of a trendy saloon that houses much of the black market in Casablanca; the conversations of the patrons give away what the real story is; Rick is man out there for himself with no attachments to the world around him except for his friend Sam. As the audience gains insight to Rick’s café Américain the audience quickly learns about Rick through a conversation between a few wealthy costumers and Carl. As a banker tries to impress Rick explaining that he “ran the second largest banking house in Amsterdam” Carl simply replies “Second largest? That wouldn’t impress Rick. The leading banker in Amsterdam is now the pastry chef in our kitchen.”
Carl’s opinions hold true and act as a warning as the audience gets to see firsthand how Rick manages the situation with one of his most valuable customers; a costumer who considers Rick a friend of sorts; Ugarte. It is plain for the audience to see that Ugarte is a weak man seeking approval from someone of power; Rick just treats him with the same regard as he does everyone else with the air of unimportance. Even as Ugarte admits “You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.” Rick doesn’t show him the slightest bit of respect until he realizes that Ugarte might be asking him to hold the missing letters of transit stolen from two German carriers. Real men don’t place respect based on stolen items, and certainly real men understand their fortune when they own an excellent business and aren’t afraid to show gratitude to their customers.
The out for himself nature becomes even more pronounced when the audience is introduced to the other man of transformation in this movie Captain Renault. When speaking about his prior jobs and the reasons for taking them he depersonalizes everything claiming his reason was money. “I got well paid for it on both occasions.” A real man has a set of values and morals that he believes in and would never be afraid to admit too; and even if he was placed in a situation where he couldn’t admit his true feelings he would never change his reasons for what happened in order to adequately explain a situation.
It isn’t until later on in the movie in a flashback to France before the German occupation of Paris, before Casablanca that the audience is given the information as to why Rick is the way he is. After learning of the love between him and Ilsa the audience is able to gather that Rick is grieving a lost love the way someone would mourn a death; by refusing to experience relationships both romantic and platonic; aside from Sam Rick has no one in Casablanca. Even though it is understandable that Rick would take issue with the heart break of a lost love; Real men don’t curl up into a ball and cry and although Rick didn’t physically assume the fetal position it appears as if his manhood did. The audience could compare his situation to that of Hub in Secondhand Lions; although Hub did lose the love of his life at no point did he lose his set of morals and values that he lived by, after all Hub is definitely a real man.
However in the end it’s Rick that truly surprises the audience; after learning that Ilsa is alive from a random appearance in his saloon, Rick proves that he is a real man one with morals and values. When Ilsa is crying in his arms claiming her love pledging to stay with him forever if she can just save her husband Victor who has been adamantly working towards his goal to over throw the German rule; he hears none of it. Instead he hears her defeat. “I can’t fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can’t do it again. Oh, I don’t know what’s right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us.” A “quiche eater” after hearing that would quickly think for himself any plan that would ensure that he gets to keep the girl. Fortunately for Ilsa and unfortunately for Rick he isn’t a “quiche eater” anymore instead he hears the desperation in her voice as she feels there is no other way; after running out of options for saving her husband.
Rick’s morals and values quickly present themselves as Rick loses his business and puts his life on the line to save the woman he loves and her husband Victor Laszlo. Rick realizes that he believes in love and the work of Victor Laszlo and couldn’t stand against it; no real man could. Here at the end the audience is suddenly able to realize the true reasons why Rick did the gun running through Ethiopia and fought the loyalist side in Spain, Rick is against the Germans and always had been. He had just been suffering from blinding grief over the love he lost; once he realized that she wasn’t dead he was able to save the day and go back to being the real man he was the one who fought for what he believed in after all Rick and Ilsa “We’ll always have Paris.” Just like Tom Doniphon of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; they were both able to give up the women they loved because they realized it was what the woman truly wanted.
The second turn around character Captain Renault is more of a surprise to the audience as throughout the movie his shows no sign of being discontented with his roles in life. Given his status as Captain he is one of the most powerful men in Casablanca; he has the power to issue and revoke letters of transit. Upon a description like that the audience is expecting to be presented a real man one of morals and values after all he’s a Captain. Instead the audience is introduced to a “quiche eater” throughout the movie the audience is forced to watch Captain Renault exercise blatant disregard for his power and responsibilities. Captain Renault seems to be the man Rick kept insisting he was. As Rick mentioned in the movie that the only cause he believes in, is himself; it’s Captain Renault who truly personifies that statement. Picking and choosing the rules he wants to enforce by how they benefit him. Even going as far as to work with the Germans when they have no power in Casablanca just to make sure he has an in incase the Germans win.
From the point the Germans land in Casablanca the act is on for Captain Renault following Major Strasser the way a dog often follows its owner; any real man would consider this worse than death. But the act continues as Captain Renault follows every direction given by Major Strasser. The best example of how Captain Renault does this is found in a conversation with Rick. “My dear Ricky, you overestimate the influence of the Gestapo. I don’t interfere with them and they don’t interfere with me. In Casablanca I am master of my fate! I am…” Unfortunately for Rick the conversation is cut short; Major Strasser is here. It’s his actions that speak much louder than the “Excuse me” he leaves Rick with. The phrase he uses to describe Major Strasser is enough to sicken a real man “We are very honored tonight, Rick. Major Strasser is one of the reasons the Third Reich enjoys the reputation it has today.”
The act doesn’t stop at the there either when Major Strasser doesn’t have the authority to arrange a meeting Captain Renault quickly steps in. After being prompted by Victor Laszlo to make a decision Captain Renault proclaims “let us say it is my request that is a much more pleasant word.” A real man would never break under the pressure of Major Strasser a real man would believe in a cause and stick with it regardless of the outcome. The best example of the way Captain Renault follows blindly any opposing force is when he closes down Rick’s business after Major Strasser becomes angry with a national anthem singing competition between his men and the rest of the establishment. When Major Strasser tells Captain Renault to close down the place Captain Renault simply replies by questioning why. Here Captain Renault could easily change his reputation by standing up against Major Strasser; the audience isn’t that lucky. Instead they are forced to watch Captain Renault fabricate a reason to make Rick close up shop. “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” The hypocrisy of the situation is sickening as the audience watches Captain Renault receive his gambling winnings as he demands the establishment be shut down immediately. A real man is never a hypocrite; a real man has morals and values and would never change them just because an opposing force said so.
In order to fully understand the corruptness of the situation the audience needs to see the slippery sliminess of Captain Renault, specifically the way he does anything for money. Early on in the movie Captain Renault admits to Rick his true nature in a conversation where he is trying to bribe Rick in to showing an alliance with his side. “Go easy on me Rick I’m just a poor corrupt official.” The evilness of Captain Renault the way he preys on young innocent woman who have nowhere to turn doesn’t come out until later. After finding out that a young woman whom he was going to “help” won’t need any help because her husband just won a huge sum of money from one of Rick’s gambling tables; he lets his true self shine. “Why do you interfere with my little romances?” “Well I’ll forgive you this time but I’ll be in tomorrow night with a breath taking blonde. It’ll make me very happy if she loses.” Real men never need to resort to manipulation to engage in romantic activities.
However the ending provides a twist for the audience much like the situation with Rick Captain Renault regains his manhood in the end. After hearing Rick explain everything to Laszlo and seeing Rick kill Major Strasser so that they plane could get off the ground safely Captain Renault changes sides. He mans up and realizes that even though Rick did kill Major Strasser he did it because he didn’t have a choice his morals required him to commit the crime. Captain Renault realizes that he could never punish Rick a real man for sticking to his beliefs.
The only man in the movie whose real man status could never be questioned is without a doubt Victor Laszlo. From the introduction of his character it is clear to the audience that Victor Laszlo owes much of his real man status to an internal drive that pushes him to work for his cause no matter the consequences. The audience can hear of this internal drive as he explains to Rick why he must fight “You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.” However when analyzing the character Victor Laszlo for his real man status it’s often his actions that speak louder than the words he says.
After sitting down at Rick’s Victor quickly gets involved in a risky conversation despite the abundance of German officers crowding the place. Using a secret symbol as a marker of a friend no “quiche eater” would have the guts to make any sort of plans with the enemy so close. Victor Laszlo doesn’t even seem to register the danger. Later in the film he becomes the leader against the German’s in a national anthem competition despite it being a known fact that he is on the German’s version of a black list. Victor Laszlo’s morals are so engrained in him that he would quickly put his life on the line for his cause. This trait can also be linked back to Ransom Stoddard of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Ransom had such a strong belief in the law that he was willing to put his life on the line to bring Liberty Valance to justice and protect the people in his town.
Just like Will Kane in High Noon Victor Laszlo also had the ability and knowledge necessary to stand up for what he believed in. As Will Kane fought for what he believed in despite the whole town standing back to watch; Victor Laszlo blatantly stood up to Major Strasser agreeing to a meeting only when told by Captain Renault the man with the authority to request a meeting.
As the issue of leaving Casablanca became harder and harder Victor Laszlo showed an aspect of himself that was defined in Hub’s speech of what all men must know. Victor Laszlo fully understood the power of love and expressed it in great detail in a speech to Rick. “I know, for instance, that you’re in love with a woman. It is perhaps a strange circumstance that we both should be in love with the same woman. The first evening I came to this café, I knew there was something between you and Ilsa. Since no one is to blame, I – I demand no explanation. I ask only one thing. You won’t give me the letters of transit: all right, but I want my wife to be safe. I ask you as a favor, to use the letters to take her away from Casablanca.” Only a real man could realize that losing the woman of his dreams the only woman he loves to another man so that she was safe was a better situation then her staying with him in danger. Yet the explanation doesn’t stop there as he is questioned about his decision he makes a one last proclamation of love. “Apparently you think of me only as the leader of a cause. Well, I’m also a human being. Yes, I love her that much.” Not only is Victor Laszlo a human being he is without a doubt a real man.
Despite Ilsa being a pivotal character of the movie whose role defined the other characters she is unable to attain real man status. She lets her fight to get the letters of transit fail as the fight becomes too much for her. Instead she places all the work on Rick “You have to think for both of us. For all of us.” Later in the movie when Rick is explaining to Laszlo what happened he gives her far too much credit. “She tried everything to get them and nothing worked. She did her best to convince me she was still in love with me but that was over long ago. For you sake she pretended it wasn’t and I let her pretend.” Although her actions could technically be interpreted that way, it appears that in reality she was just giving up; had she really meant what Rick thought she wouldn’t have argued with Rick when he was giving both the letters of transit to her and Victor. “But, Richard, no I… I…” And after further explanation from Richard that she must go “But what about us?.... I said I would never leave you.” A real woman wouldn’t have continued to argue when she got what she wanted. The only reason it appears as if she could gain real man status is because Rick made the right choice, what if he had sent Victor Laszlo off and kept Ilsa for himself?
Major Strasser is the only character in the movie whose “quiche eater” status can’t be denied. A Nazi puppet whose role is never really determined is in the movie as a constant reminder of the circumstances the rest of the characters are living in. Had he not been there as an antagonist to the problems of the other characters Rick and Captain Renault might have never found their real man side.
The Great Escape
The second movie of the War Block The Great Escape can easily be linked to The Magnificent Seven in the Wild West Block because of the amount of characters. When trying to analyze characters to determine whether or not they may hold the coveted real man title the audience needs to be able to see multiple aspects of their personality and the way they handle different situations. It can easily be assumed that most men in the movie are real men however only a few character give true proof. Aside from the Germans who can all be considered “quiche eaters” simply because none of them seem to think for themselves but instead act on the command of higher ranking officers even when they don’t think it’s right; there are a few “quiche eaters” on the allied side as well; the leader of the escape himself Bartlett and Ives.
Despite Bartlett’s fight to escape the German’s he is still a “quiche eater” because he puts his own personal escape as high up on the importance scale as possible putting all of the other escapees at risk. He knows that including himself as part of the escape is dangerous because he is warned when first getting into the camp that should he fall back into the hand of the Gestapo he “won’t be as lucky” he has officially been put on the black list.
Although this black list membership seems to be easily forgotten by Bartlett it isn’t so easily forgotten by the other members. In a conversation with Ramsey; Bartlett announces that the treatment he received from the Gestapo was “Not nearly as rough as I now intend to give them.” Ramsey reminds him that “personal revenge must be kept out of what we have to do here; too many lives are at stake.” “What my personal feelings are is of no importance” his quick reply might be the foreshadowing of what’s to come. A real man thinks before he speaks a real man would be able to admit that he does hold certain hostilities towards the Germans but a real man would be able to speak about these concerns and then be strong enough to fight against them.
Later in the movie the issue of Bartlett’s black list status comes up again in a debate as to whether or not Colin who had recently gone blind should be allowed to go through with the escape. After announcing Colin’s fate “Not Colin. He’d be an appalling hazard to the whole escape. That must be my decision.” It’s Hendley that points out what apparently the whole camp had in the back of their minds “You want to talk about hazards? Let’s talk about hazards. Let’s talk about you. You’re the biggest hazard we have. The Gestapo has you marked. No one has said you can’t go.” Just like any other “quiche eater” Bartlett doesn’t even address the issue in his response to Hendley “That’s true, and I have thought about the Gestapo. But if you’re asking me how far a commanding officer is allowed to go, or dare go, or should be permitted to play God, I can’t answer you.” Real men can realize when the cause they are fighting for is larger than themselves and would rather preserve the mission than risk it in order to full fill their own wishes; no real man would even consider going forward with the mission if his involvement could easily destroy it; Bartlett is without doubt a “quiche eater.”
Hendley’s real man status shows throughout the situation with Colin; a real man would never leave a man behind and not for a single second even when Colin says “You know, he’s right; he’s right. I really shouldn’t go. My eyes have been getting worse and worse. I think they call it progressive Myopia.” Hendley never once even thinks of leaving a friend behind. In his own words “Colin’s not a blind man as long as he’s with me. And he’s going with me!” Hendley’s proud declaration doesn’t have even the slightest twinge of uncertainty he realizes as a real man he has the ability and responsibility to help his friend and a real man knows if it’s his responsibility it must be done.
Ives is the only other “quiche eater” on the allied side and despite his short role in the movie and his “quiche eater” status he’s beneficial to the escape because of the impact he has on Hilts. From the introduction of his character he quickly explains to Hilts that his sanity is near its wits end. After being imprisoned for three years he’s “nearly wire happy.” At the point that the movie is filmed the character of Ives is seeing death as a better alternative to being imprisoned any longer. After his last blitz which he knows will work “I swear it will” fails Ives gives into the “quiche eater” solution giving up. Unfortunately for Ives his idea of giving up means committing suicide by trying to climb up the barbed wire fence. A real man keeps going no matter how hard it gets and would never for a second think of death as an escape, a real man would be ashamed of dying at such a time because his fight isn’t won yet.
Ives does however push Hilts to joining the cause, after losing his partner in crime he is forced to help the escape because he can’t continue with the small blitzes by himself. It’s not until the end that the audience is able to see a display of Hilts’ real man qualities first hand. After making a shocking discovery the night of the escape “Hold on to yourself, Bartlett. You’re twenty feet short.” As Bartlett an established quiche eater quickly begins to worry “What do you mean, twenty feet short?... What about the goon towers?” Hilts takes doesn’t take in any of the worry that Bartlett is confessing instead he just proves that he deserves his real man status. “That’s a chance you’re gonna have to take. But they’re gonna be watching the compound, not the woods.” Hilts the real man in this conversation quickly takes charge, deciding that it would be best that continue as planned, quickly making a system of communication with rope pulling. The system allows for Hilts to be safely in the words watching the guard so that every time his pulls the rope someone else can escape. A “quiche eater” would be shaking too much to have such an important job; but a real man like Hilts can do it no problem.
Ultimately the other characters in the movie were unable to give solid evidence towards their real men status because of the shortened amount of screen time they were allotted. This is just like in the movie The Magnificent Seven because it is apparent that all seven men are real men however because of the increased number of characters it is hard to find proof as to why they are real men in terms of specific examples.
The movie Mister Roberts the third and final film of the War Block can most easily be linked to the movie Second Hand Lions both movies include two real men and one boy that becomes a real man in the end. The first real man is Mr. Doug Roberts himself who is struggling with his responsibilities to the men on the ship and the fear that the war may end without him ever getting the chance to fight, the second real man Doc has the wisdom that helps Mr. Roberts deal with the internal struggle of his responsibilities vs. his wants, and third the boy who becomes a man under the guidance of two experience real men Frank Pulver.
The first real man Mr. Roberts is dealing with the same issues that are addressed in both books by Bruce Feirstein how “does a Real Man survive in a society filled with quiche eaters and designated hitters?” (Feirstein, back cover Quiche). From the introduction of his character the audience learns that Mr. Roberts is deeply dissatisfied with his position in the navy but because of a crazy captain is unable to attain. Just like Hub in Second Hand Lions Mr. Roberts is a real man that needs action and could never be satisfied with a non proactive role. The same way that after Hub lost the love of his life he continued to fight going from war to war until his age forced him to retire. The best example of Mr. Roberts’s disgust for his situation comes from a speech about the captains prized palm tree. “I looked down from our bridge and saw our captain’s palm tree! Our trophy for superior achievement! The Admiral John J. Finchley ward for delivering more toothpaste and toilet paper than any other Navy cargo ship in the safe area of the Pacific.” Although Mr. Roberts does understand that his work on “the bucket” is helping the war effort; as a real man he wants to be in position to help to the best of his ability and “the bucket” is definitely not the place for Mr. Roberts.
As the disgust of being assigned to a ship that never sees action continues to deeply affect Mr. Roberts the theme of why continues to arise. In an effort to come to terms with his placement Mr. Roberts explains to Doc his fears as to why he might have been assigned to “the bucket.” “We’ve got nothing to do with the war. Maybe that’s why we’re on this ship, cause we’re not good enough to fight. Cause our glands don’t secrete enough adrenaline, or our great-great- grandmothers were afraid of the dark or something.” This shows one of the main differences from real men like Mr. Roberts and real men like Rick from Casablanca; even here when Mr. Roberts is at his lowest point he never once does anything that would jeopardize his real man status.
Yet in the same scene Mr. Roberts also shows the differences between himself and Victor Laszlo also from Casablanca; in a response to a question from Doc. “Hero? Doc, you haven’t heard a word I’ve said. Look, Doc, the war’s way out there and I’m here Well, I don’t want to be here, I wanna be out there. I’m sick and tired of being a lousy spectator.” Mr. Roberts doesn’t want to be a hero the way Victor Laszlo did instead Mr. Roberts is a fighter and just wants his chance to fight. Unfortunately for Mr. Roberts his actions cause him to give up his ability to obtain the opportunity to fight.
After his plan to acquire a liberty for his men backfires Mr. Roberts shows exactly why he deserves his real man status, because a real man because a real man never shies away from his responsibilities. In order to obtain liberty for his crew despite the crazy captain refusing it Mr. Roberts sent out a bribe compliments of the Captain. Although he did break rules by using the Captains name Mr. Roberts was doing so in order to help the men of “the bucket” so his real man status is unharmed. Unfortunately when the Captain gets back a thank you note and realizes why the men were awarded liberty he forces Mr. Roberts to make an extremely difficult decision; announce to the men that the liberty is canceled or let the men go on liberty and give up writing letters requesting transfer and fully meet all requests made by the Captain.
A “quiche eater” would have apologized to the crew and continued to write letters but Mr. Roberts is no “quiche eater” he gave up his right to request transfer. There are many reasons why Mr. Roberts did this the first one is the easiest he knew that the men deserved a liberty and had been fighting to get him one; after all it was part of his job description to deal with the men. This entails seeing that their basic needs are meet and getting a chance to stand on land every so often is definitely within their basic needs. Ultimately it’s the other reason that will eventually gain Mr. Roberts the respect of the other men; he felt it was his responsibility. Mr. Roberts was a real man because the idea of saying no to the Captain’s request never crossed his mind. This situation was made because of his decision and it was his responsibility to deal with it not the men of the ship.
At the end Mr. Roberts sends a letter back to “the bucket” that proves what kind of man he is and shows that real men know when to give thanks to those that have helped him. “This is a tough crew on here, and they have a wonderful battle record. But I’ve discovered, Doc, that the unseen enemy of this war is the boredom that eventually becomes a faith and, therefore, a terrible sort of suicide. I know now that the ones who refuse to surrender to it are the strongest of all. Right now I’m looking at something that’s hanging over my desk. A preposterous hunk of brass attached to the most bilious piece of ribbon I’ve ever seen. I’d rather have it than the Congressional Medal of Honor. It tells me what I’ll always be proudest of: That at a time in the world when courage counted most I lived among 62 brave men.” A “quiche eater” would have made himself believe that the knowledge he acquired was all his own doing; but Mr. Roberts is no “quiche eater” as a real man Mr. Roberts gave thanks to the crew that helped be the man that he is.
The other real man of the movie Doc can be most closely compared to Garth of Second Hand Lions; Garth was the uncle that explained everything the same way that is Mister Roberts Doc is the one that explains everything to Pulver. Further comparisons can be made between the ways that Garth at times pulled back Hub to the way Doc pulled back Mr. Roberts; both were the voice of reason in their movies that helped the other real men deal with their situations. Ultimately it’s not until the end that the audience is able to see exactly how much of a real man Doc is.
Throughout the movie Doc was extremely beneficial to the audience because his questions made Mr. Roberts clarify his points specifically when Mr. Roberts is explaining why he needs to get off “the bucket” its Doc’s question “What is it you want to be, Doug, a hero?” That forces Mr. Roberts to go into more detail so that the audience is able to give Mr. Roberts real man status. However Doc’s real man status is from more than just his side kick like status to Mr. Roberts Doc is able to get through to Mr. Roberts and make him see things that at times he doesn’t want to see. For example what a war hero really is “That’s mostly what makes physical heroism. Opportunity. It’s a reflex. I think that seventy-five out of a hundred young males have that reflex.” Then continuing to make sure that Mr. Roberts fully understands “You’d have Pulver, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner. Pulver, who single-handed shot down twenty-three attacking Zeros. Pulver who, with his bare hands, help together the severed wing struts of his plane, and with his bare feet successfully landed his mortally wounded plane on his home field. Reflex. It’s like the knee jerk. Strike the patella tendon in any human being, you produce the knee jerk.” Conversations like these are the conversations that keep Mr. Roberts sane while he serves what feels like a sentence on “the bucket” however not just anyone could have delivered these conversations; only a real man could have understood what Mr. Roberts was feeling enough to be able to get through to him with an attempt to save his sanity. However the true proof of Doc’s real man status comes at the end.
After finding out what Mr. Roberts did for the men in order to allow them liberty Doc figured out a way to have the men repay Mr. Roberts. By holding a competition to see who could sign the best Doc was able to fabricate a letter of transfer and send it out without the Captain or Mr. Roberts knowing. Only a real man would have the morals strong enough to put their careers on the line to help someone that helped them. By telling Mr. Roberts what really happened with him getting transferred he single handedly makes Mr. Roberts realize how much the men respect him; without the knowledge provided by Doc Mr. Roberts might never have sent that letter that Pulver read at the end.
Pulver is one of the more interesting transformations that we have seen so far just like Walter in Second Hand Lions at the beginning of the movie he is just a boy or “quiche eater” in Pulver’s case but by the end he is definitely a real man. The transition for Pulver is quite surprising as he goes through most the movie a “quiche eater” but after finding out about Mr. Roberts’s death realizes how great of a real man Mr. Roberts was and quickly becomes one himself.
Throughout the movie it would have been real easy for the audience to give up on seeing Pulver man up as a lost cause because he didn’t seem to have the potential necessary but Mr. Roberts isn’t the kind to give up and eventually even though he never knows turns Pulver into a real man. Luckily for Pulver Mr. Roberts was his roommate so he was able to give constant guidance from the first scene where Pulver is introduced Mr. Roberts is grooming him into a real man. The audience learns that Mr. Roberts has given him books to read but he never reads them. Instead Pulver has “been reading “God’s Little Acre” for over a year now. He’s underlined every erotic passage and added exclamation points. And after a certain pornographic climax, he’s inserted the words “well written.” It’s examples like this that seem to make it hard to give Pulver “quiche eater” status because that isn’t the work of a “quiche eater” that’s the work of a teenage boy; at times it seems that the issue with Pulver is that he is simply too immature.
However there is one thing that Mr. Roberts tells Pulver that he seems to remember. After explaining to Doc what Pulver does all day “Doc, he lies in his sack all day long, bores me silly with great, moronic plots against the captain. He’s never carried out one of them.” However it’s the end of the argument that Pulver remembers in the end. “You asked me what I thought of you. Well, I’ll tell you. The day you finish one thing you’ve started to do the day you actually put those marbles in the Captain’s over head then have the guts to knock on his door and say “Captain, I put those marbles there!” That’s the day I’ll look up to you as a man.” In the last few minutes of the movie the audience gets to see what Mr. Roberts never will, Pulver being a man.
After finding out that the movie that night was canceled Pulver finally becomes a man and stands up to the Captain. After throwing the palm tree overboard he knocks of the Captain’s door and announces “It is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin’ palm tree overboard. Now what’s all this crud about no movie tonight?” These are the actions of a real man no “quiche eater” would dare throw the Captain’s stuff over board. With the help of two real men Mr. Roberts and Doc; Pulver is now a real man.