The Values of Life

         If I were to teach a course on family values to a group of students, I would choose Tennessee Williams' 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire, filmed in 1951 by Eliza Kazan, as a negative example. There are so many negative points about family values, it would make a great discussion. In this play, there is a lot of physical and verbal abuse, sibling fights, and much more.

         One reason this story would be a good example of negative family values is the way Stanley (Marlon Brando) treats Stella (Kim Hunter). Stanley seems to be drunk all the time and always out with the "guys." He never spends time with Stella as a family. He also throws fits of rage about every little thing. Stella asks Stanley to stop a card game and send his friends home because it is so late. When Stanley hears this, he grabs Stella and hits her, knowing she is carrying his unborn child. He also yells at her, calling her degrading things. This type of abuse is definitely a negative example of family values. Also, Stella runs from Stanley after being abused, but later returns to him when he comes calling for her. This would be a bad example to show children. Children should be taught to protect themselves from such abuse. They should not be taught to suffer abuse and then run back into the arms of an abuser.

         Another example of bad family values is seen in Blanche (Vivien Leigh). Blanche moves in with Stella, her sister, and Stanley because she has lost everything. She comes into their home and flirts with Stanley. She is a tramp and acts like one throughout the movie. She also stirs up trouble between Stella and Stanley because she tells Stella what a loser she has married. And in turn, Stella thinks less of Stanley, referring to him as a "dumb Pollock." The criticism that Stella begins to give Stanley causes Stanley to not put up with her as much.

         I think that this family has no values whatsoever. There are no values in the marriage between Stella and Stanley, and there are no values within the sisterhood of Stella and Blanche. This is why I think this play would be good to discuss when one wants an example of negative values. One can see negative values in everyone in this play.

Britney Darnell

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