Ferl's Developmental Stages In The Film Sling Blade

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In the movie Sling Blade, the main character is Karl, a developmentally disabled gentleman that has been in a state run psychiatric hospital for killing his mother and her lover when he was a young boy. The day of his release, he is interviewed by a college newspaper reporter, to which he recounts the brutal murder of his mother and her lover with a sling blade. He goes on to explain that he killed the man because he thought he was raping his mother, but when he figured out that was not the case, he killed his mother as well. When asked if he will kill again, his response is “I don’t reckon I got no reason to kill nobody. Mmm” (Bushell et al. & Thornton, 1997). With the help of the warden, Karl lands a job working at a small engine repair …show more content…
Karl sits there not saying much as two young college reporters check in to interview him. The state has deemed him as being well and he is scheduled to be released soon. The girls are interviewing him about the murders he had committed. The warden informs the girls that Karl is sensitive to having his picture taken, and that he prefers to talk under limited lighting, so the interview takes place in an almost dark room, with Karl basically talking to himself. Karl describes his childhood, where he is kept in a shed in the back, isolated from his family. There are times that he attends school, but the other children are mean to him, so he only goes time to time. While Karl is explaining about his childhood, it becomes apparent to the viewer that Karl has not developed at a normal pace, and that Erikson’s first psychosocial stage, Trust vs. Mistrust, has never really been established. In this stage, which is typically established between birth and 1 year of age, “babies either trust that others will satisfy their basic needs, including nourishment, warmth, cleanliness and physical contact or develop mistrust about the care of others” (Berger, 2014). Karl was cast out to the shed, where he slept in a hole that he had dug in the ground. His mother brought him mustard and biscuits a couple times a week, but there was no real stability …show more content…
While grabbing a bite to eat, he meets Frank, a young boy that he immediately becomes friends with. While helping Frank carry his laundry back to his house, they talk back and forth. Karl tells Frank that he was just released from the state hospital and when asked why, Karl tells Frank that he killed some people. Once at Frank’s house, he invites Karl to play football with him and a few other friends. Karl is not comfortable with being free yet and tries to return to the asylum, but is told that he cannot return. The warden, being sympathetic to Karl’s dilemma, offers to help Karl get a job with a local repair shop.
It is in this repair shop that Karl grows into himself. He is a natural whiz when it comes to tearing down and repairing small engines, although he only claims that he has only tinkered around with them a bit. He excels at the work that he does, often outperforming the other shop help. It is here Karl that fulfills the role of identity in Erikson’s Identity vs. Role Confusion. During some of his off time, Karl returns to Frank’s house to see him, and they both go to the local dollar store, where Karl meets Frank’s mom, Linda. She suggests that Karl come stay in their garage, to which he

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