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This Boy's Life

The film This Boy's Life (1993) is set in the 1950s and does a good job of recreating that era. The look is right, but the characters are also right, with attitudes about certain subjects showing that they come from a different time than we do today. For those of us who recall that era, the film has a certain nostalgic value, though it also should make us think that we have done well to get away from some of the past we remember. One of the notable changes is the way women are treated and the way families are viewed as protected from all criticism, though we know today that women are still mistreated and that there are many things about the family that can be destructive. The young man in this film, Toby, may emerge from his experience a stronger person, but this does not mean society should ignore the plight of young people in the same situation.

Toby and his mother start in the East and head for the West so she can escape an abusive boyfriend and find a new life. Caroline and Toby are free spirits, and their decision to travel across the country is a major one. They travel to Salt Lake City, Seattle, and eventually Concrete, Washington. They move to the Pacific Northwest in search of a better life. How the two decide to go to Seattle shows how free they are of entanglements and how much they want only to escape--they were going to go to Phoenix, but they change direction when the Phoenix bus is late.

When they settle in Seattle, the mother becomes involved with another man, a garage mechanic, while Toby continually gets into trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd. Caroline worries about her son and the trouble he is getting into, and this is one of the prime reasons she turns to her new boyfriend, Dwight, to get a father figure for her son. The mother marries the mechanic, but soon after she and Toby discover that the man is another abusive alcoholic, suggesting that Caroline keeps making the same mistake...

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This Boy's Life. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:41, March 18, 2019, from