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Themes in American History X

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1 Themes in American History X

2 Racism Definition The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

3 A major theme of American History X is racism and the consequences – how it affects not only your life, but the lives of those around you

4 The struggle to change The character of Derek is one of a Christ like figure who has to be deconstructed so that he may rise again and so save his brother Danny.

5 Derek struggles against change when he is imprisoned
Derek struggles against change when he is imprisoned. He initially forms an alliance with a white neo-nazi skinhead group, but becomes disillusioned with them when, one day he sees the leader of their group exchanging money for drugs with a Mexican. He then sold it to one of the white inmates.

6 He believed drugs made people weak and were a problem that only the minority groups should have.

7 Derek was tired of seeing these people talking about one thing and then doing another. He decided to break away from the group and go on his own. In an act of retaliation for the disrespect Derek had shown them, he was raped and beaten in the shower.

8 It is at this point that Derek starts questioning whether his ways are actually something that he believes anymore. Everything that he has believed in is now starting to crumble around him. He doesn't know what to believe.

9 Prejudice and manipulation
Definition of Prejudice an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics the film bases itself around the idea of hatred and prejudice of races against each other

10 Definition of manipulate
to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage Derek, primarily, and to a lesser extent Danny, are manipulated in their innocence, firstly, unconsciously, by their father and then Cameron

11 Hatred Definition of Hatred extreme dislike or antipathy
Derek and Danny’s hatred of African Americans (and other minority groups) is, firstly, fuelled by the murder of their father whilst fighting a fire in a “black” area

12 and, later, by Cameron Alexander’s white supremacist neo-nazi ideas

13 Friendship Definition of friendship
attached to another by affection or esteem In prison, Derek’s only “true” friend turns out to be Lamont, the African American who Derek works with in the laundry

14 When Derek left prison he realised that the only reason he was still alive was because Lamont had put his reputation on the line to help him. This type of action helped reinforce the new thoughts and ideas that were running through Derek's mind.

15 Can you think of any other themes present in American History X?

16 Writing Task Choose one of the themes evident in American History X (one presented here or one of your own choosing) and demonstrate how this theme is developed throughout the film. Use quotes (if possible) and examples from the film to support your ideas. Approx. 400 words

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