Interpersonal conflict in American Beauty

Category: American Beauty, Beauty
Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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American Beauty Jessica Jackson (Thompson) Interpersonal Communication Alfred Wilfong November 19th, 2011 I chose to watch the movie American Beauty. I have seen this movie previously, and enjoyed watching it again. An interpersonal conflict that I identified in the movie was between Kevin Spacey’s character Lester and his wife Carolyn, played by Annette Bening.

In chapter nine of our text, Daniel Dana suggested four factors that must be present for a disagreement to be considered a conflict: two parties are interdependent, both parties blame the other, on or more of the parties are angry or emotionally upset, and the parties’ behaviors are affecting their relationship with each other and others. (Dana, 2011) Carolyn was very ambitious and Lester was having what one would call a mid-life crisis.

They both had very poor communication skills. Given they were married they were interdependent, they blamed each other for any and all issues in their relationship, they were both angry, and their behaviors were not only affecting their relationship with one another, but their relationship with their teenage daughter, who seemed to loathe her parents. They both handled their conflict differently. Carolyn began to have an affair with a business rival.

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Lester, after black-mailing his boss, takes a job at a fast food joint, starts lifting weights, and obsesses over his daughter’s friend. As I stated earlier they did not communicate well with one another. At dinner if they weren’t yelling at each other they were speaking to each other at all. Outside of intense couples therapy they needed to work on empathizing with one another. Lester should have told his wife about being laid off, and they could have worked through that trial together.

Carolyn should have never had an affair, and instead expressed her frustration with Lester and they could have worked through her frustrations, together. Their hostility and conflict was just growing in the movie. It never seemed to lessen. They had no positive feelings in their conflict as well. They usually responded to anger with anger or anger with silence. Lester, Carolyn, and their daughter need to communicate more effectively. They can do this by listening to one another needs, empathizing with one another, and responding effectively.

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