Last Updated 21 Apr 2020

Developmental Theories in Juno

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The movie Juno is not only an excellent representation of film and the creative process coming together to create characters and a story that draws in the audience and allows them to invest themselves in the lives of the characters, but it is also an excellent example of the developmental process. This is because the movie reflects not only the development of its protagonist Juno MacGuff and her emotional growth and development, but also her physical development throughout her pregnancy.

Juno begins with the adolescent protagonist, sixteen year old Juno MacGuff, realizing that her one night stand with her friend and long-time crush, Paulie Bleeker, has resulted in her being pregnant. However when Juno goes to the clinic to receive the abortion, she finds that both her conscience and the pro-life protesting of a fellow classmate prevent her from going through with the deed. This conflict and resulting action are what spur the young Juno on to the exceptional level of growth and development that are experienced by both her and the audience throughout the film.

After nervously telling her dysfunctional parents about her pregnancy, a difficult task for any young and unsuspecting expectant mother, Juno decides that what is best for her child is to carry it to term and place it with a loving family who can provide it with what she herself cannot. From this point in the movie on, Juno's growth is more than evident, as the process of deciding on adoptive parents for her unborn child pushes her to the limits as to what a person of her age should be dealing with.

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After searching through a local paper Juno decides on an infertile couple from the suburbs of Minnesota, Mark and Vanessa, that is seemingly perfect, and upon meeting them they seem to be the perfect fit for her. However, as the young Juno's confidence in her decision grows, the stability of Mark and Vanessa's relationship is tested as Mark begins to befriend Juno and their mutual love of rock and horror films makes Mark realize not only the sacrifices he has had to make personally to make his marriage work, but also whether or not a child is what he wants at this point in his life.

The arising conflict, which puts extra strain on Mark's relationship with Vanessa, who is so sure in her desire to have a child, results in their separation and the falling apart of what seemed such a perfect solution to Juno's predicament. Mark and Vanessa's separation hits Juno especially hard, because in her helpless situation Mark and Vanessa's seemingly perfect situation not only grounded her but gave her hope, as her birth parent's divorce and the dysfunctional relationship between her father and stepmother seem to give her no hope for happiness now or later in life.

As Juno's pregnancy reaches full-term her faith in others and relationships is restored when she realizes that Vanessa's desire and love for her unborn child makes her more than suitable to be the mother of her child, which also gives her the courage to express her true feelings for her friend Paulie. The movie ends on an inspirational and hopeful note, with Juno having a healthy baby boy whom Vanessa willingly and lovingly accepts, and Juno and Paulie entering into a healthy and stable relationship.

After watching the movie with some knowledge of the process of growth and development, the role that Bronfenbrenner's, Piaget's, and Erickson's theories played in Juno's development. Urie Bronfenbrnner stressed the importance of the systems that surround each person, and the significant impact they have on that person's development. These systems are the microsystem, which is made up of friends, family, and school, the ecosystem, which includes things such as the school system, religious organization, and workplace, and the macrosystem, which include cultural values, economic policies, and political policies.

Juno stresses the importance the microsystem and macrosystem play in a person's development. Juno's microsystem is dysfunctional, and her relationship with her parents affects her development and her relationship with her friends and the other students at her school. The divorce between her father and her mother, who now has a new family and only sends her a cactus on Valentine's Day, and her impaired relationship with her stepmother have resulted in her adopting an abrupt and unusual persona that cause her to be somewhat of an outcast at school, as well as being unsure about her own relationships in the cases of Paulie and Mark.

Additional strain is placed on Juno by the cultural values of her macrosystem, as the scorn she is shown by her peers and the staff at her school over her pregnancy causes her to feel angry with Paulie. Jean Piaget described the four periods of cognitive development, and Juno's ability to think and reason analytically show that she is in the formal operational stage of her cognitive development. This stage is characterized by adolescents thinking "about abstractions and hypothetical concepts and reason analytically, not just emotionally.

They can be logical about things they have never experienced. " (Berger, 2008, p. 45 Table 2. 2). The character of Juno is an excellent example of this development, because throughout her pregnancy, which is an extremely emotional time, she is able to reason logically about what is best for her baby without being driven solely by emotion. Juno's decision to still give her child to Vanessa, who she knows will be a great mother, after Mark leaves her (which Juno blames herself for), showcases Juno's ability to reason logically without emotion.

Also, Juno's decision to have her child and to give it away to Mark and Vanessa despite how difficult it will be emotionally displays her ability to be logical about what is best for her and her child despite having never experienced the situation before. Erik Erickson describes eight critical developmental stages of psychosocial development, and the stage that the adolescent Juno is in is identity vs. role confusion. This stage emphasizes the importance of social relationships and the primary task is finding one's own personal identity.

Failure to receive identity achievement results in role confusion, and for part of the film this seems that the dysfunctional relationships in her life will make this happen to Juno. However, a conversation with her father about the importance of finding someone who truly loves and knows you gives Juno the realization of who she is and what exactly it is that she wants. This spurs Juno on to enter into a relationship with Paulie, and after having the baby, is content with who she is and what she wants.

Juno, is a film that is not only valuable for its cinematic content, but also for its accurate representation of development, including physical, cognitive, and psychosocial. The growth of the film's young protagonist Juno is not only representative of the hardships of teenage pregnancy and their effects on a young woman, but that successful development can occur despite these hardships when there is a proper balance of emotional and environmental factors.

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