Conflict Theory is a basic concept that was founded by Karl Marx. The theory suggests that everything that happens in society is a result of conflict. This Theory teaches us that the elitist class in society does everything in their power to keep the lower classes where they are. In the Movie Street Wise, Richard, Duane, and Erin are subordinate kids who have to deal with the problems that society has brought on them. This class of kids learns to deal with life in their own way, on the principles they learned to adopt.
The movie Street Wise takes place in Seattle where we first meat Duane. Duane is a sixteen-year-old male that lives on the street. Duane s daily activities include getting up at twelve, paying fifty cents to shower, begging for money, and ending the day by doing drugs. Duane s entire life is in conflict with what society considers the norm. We ask ourselves why is Duane living on the street, why is he paying money to shower, and finally why does he beg for money? The reason behind Duane s problem is the route of his non-existent family. Duane s family is hardly involved in his life. His mother is non-existent and his father is in jail for burglary, arson and many other charges. Even though Duane talks to his dad in prison, this is no way for a boy of his age to live his life. Duane s father knows that Duane is leading a very unproductive life and tells Duane this. Duane s father asks him if he does drugs and smokes because he is concerned about his physical well being. Duane s dad hopes to get out of jail and try to turn both of their lives around. The reason behind Duane s unfulfilling life was because Duane didn t have anyone to teach him right and wrong. Duane was forced into doing what others did to make a life for themselves. Duane adapted to the principles of living on the street and never got the chance to socialize with kids that weren t in the same type of situations.
Richard is a boy who lives on the street with his friend Jack. Richard begs for money, steals pizzas and eats from dumpsters. Richard s life is a lot similar to that of his friend Duane s. Richard no longer lives at home because his family didn t want him to because of all the illegal crimes he commits. Richard s mom seems to have emotional problems, which do not help Richard s situation. Richard s family life is horrible because he doesn t live at home, doesn t go to school, and has no way of making a living. At one point his mom wants him to come home, but what good is that to him? His mom and father do not seem to get along and this will only contribute to a bad physical environment for Richard.
Erin is another main character in Street Wise; she is a fourteen-year-old girl who isn t in any better situation than Richard and Duane. Erin sleeps around, accepts money for sex and does whatever she wants. Unlike the family life of Richard and Duane, Erin has a mother that is involved in her life in a small way. Erin s mom says she loves her daughter and doesn t want anything to happen to her. Is this just a disguise? Does Erin s mother really care about her daughter? Erin s mom does not do what is necessary to help her daughter live a normal and productive life in the society. I am afraid some day I will get a call and my daughter will be dead . If Erin s mom feels this way why doesn t she try to get her daughter from doing these bad acts? Why doesn t Erin s mother and step dad try to get Erin to go to school and teach her the ways to living a productive life?
In Duane s life where was the love he needed? The love of a family was never present and caused the diminishing failure to his personal well being. Richard never had a family of love; hence he didn t know what one was. Richard had no problem living in a shack, begging for money or doing whatever was necessary to survive. This is a major conflict that Duane was never able to overcome. The diminishing qualities of life eventually lead Duane to taking his own. One must wonder what is wrong with society that a boy of his age didn t get the benefits that most of us did. At one point in time Duane went to the doctor to get checked out and the doctor realized all of the physical and emotional problems this boy had. Why didn t this doctor call social services and try to get this boy a real chance in this world? I guess doctors of his economic status just do their job and try to help the way they can with medicine. This could be considered one of the major flaws with society. The Rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Richard s story ends with him going to Alaska and wanting to free his buddy Mike out of jail. Richard s life was no better than that of any person that s on the street. His day consisted of the usual thievish acts. In Richards case there was also no love. Richard had nobody to set the guidelines to help him be a well-rounded adolescent. The only person Richard had was his friend, Jack, another street junkie. Sure they were friends and probably had some type of love in their friend ship, but what good is that? To be successful you need to be taught the ways of life. There is no way of knowing if Richard ever made it to Alaska, he could have died on the way. It isn t as if Richard had enough money, the education, or the mental toughness to grow up on his own.
Erin, a girl of only fourteen years of age does whatever she wants no matter what the consequences might be on her body. To her, money and sex were the most important things. She felt she was obligated to making a living by having sex. Erin s mother may have gave her money and said she cared about her, but we all know that wasn t true to the full extent. A situation develops where Erin feels she may or may not be pregnant and goes to the doctor to find out. The doctor and her talk, and discuss some of the problems that could arise if you keep having unprotected sex. The doctor knows of all the things Erin does, and realizes she is only fourteen years old. The doctor asks her of the ages of people she has had sex with and must have realized that having sex with a fourteen-year-old girl is statutory rape. Erin s mom finds out that her daughter may or may not be pregnant and seems to just shrug it off. She realizes that her daughter is dirty yet she doesn t really seem to care. This is another example of another life wasted because of family problems.
Conflict Theory is a major problem in society of today, and we need to help people take the right paths to lead a successful life. There is no excuse for adolescents living on the streets with no cares in the world. In today s society many people give to charities and help others, but there will always be people that have live on the street. Situations like the ones in Street Wise happen all the time and we need to stop these things from happening. Over the last few years we have been faced with similar problems of adolescent abuse and we need to correct them. The Columbine shootings were a problem of conflict between the popular kids and the unpopular, and this tragedy had an impact in nations all over the world. Street Wise is a prime example of kids who grew up in non-cooperative families that ruined their lives. The conflict between the elite class getting richer and the poor getting poorer will be a problem that this society will have to deal with for a long time. We need to do what we can to minimize reoccurrences like the ones we saw in this movie.