How does Jamal’s understanding of human nature change when he “steps into Forrester’s shoes and walks around in them?”
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Originally, Jamal Wallace was unable to understand that lonely people are in need of companionship due to his lack of experiencing the world through other people’s perspectives. So stuck was he in the thoughts of his own world that he could not see beyond himself and into the worlds of other people. For example, in an earlier part of the movie, Jamal sneaks into William Forrester’s apartment with no though as to how the intrusion might impact the resident. Forrester’s home was entered to suit Jamal’s curiosity and his selfishness. Jamal fancied himself invincible. Yet in the apartment, Forrester was found, and though not immediately, a friendship was stuck. In Forrester, Jamal noticed isolation and loneliness. Though Forrester was a profound thinker and writer, he spent far too much time in his own head and not enough with the rest of the world, which Jamal realized, led to Forrester’s loneliness. This realization became applicable to Jamal’s life when he began attending an elite high school. Compared to many other students, Jamal was poor, and subsequently, shunned. Jamal’s shunning led him to a situation akin to that of Forrester; both men were lonely. No longer the invincible force he believed himself to be, Jamal was forced to take a look at the world from Forrester’s perspective. The loneliness caused a sadness in Forrester, one which Jamal now understood. As a result, Jamal came to the realization that lonesome humans are in need of companionship and that invincibility through isolation is an impossibility. Jamal has a new understanding of human nature, that companionship alleviates loneliness, because of his experience of viewing the world from Forrester’s perspective.
Before meeting Forrester, Jamal was blind to the effects of his actions on those around him. He and his friends mindlessly poked fun at Forrester, spreading rumors simply because they did not understand his nature. In doing so, Jamal showed his oblivious and childish nature when it came to understanding the ways of other individuals. However, upon striking up a friendship with Forrester, Jamal realizes that others see the world in a different way than he does. Previously, Jamal believed that Forrester was a criminal, locked up due to some crime he had committed. He eventually realizes that Forrester, in fact, remains in his crowded apartment for no reason other than his personal preferences.
Additionally, at the beginning of the movie, Jamal is shown to be an avid writer, constantly writing in journals. While his friends would not understand this habit of his, Forrester can relate to Jamal, and I think this is a great deal of what draws Jamal to return to his apartment. Initially, the longing to be understood might have been the only force drawing Jamal to talk to Forrester. However, after walking around in Forrester’s shoes, so to speak, Jamal comes to realize that when writing is one’s primary pastime, it brings one into a shocking loneliness that Jamal previously made fun of Forrester for. Since he was attempting to hide his interactions with Forrester, I found that Jamal seemed to be slightly oppressed, causing an internal loneliness that allowed Jamal to relate with Forrester. Jamal gains skills from Forrester that allow him to see the world with a broader perspective and understand the unexplainable obscurities that appear on the surface of many individuals.
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