Assuming Is Dangerous
When people make assumptions, based on things that they think they see, hear, or know; without confirming their conclusion first, anything can result. For Lester Burnham, it can be concluded, the result of someone else’s assumption would be his own death. Throughout the movie America Beauty, there were many miscommunications between the characters, but only one particular failure to communicate cost someone their life.
Colonel Frank Fitts was very concerned with his sons’ activities and his relationship with Lester Burnham, unaware of the true nature of the relationship between his son and Lester, the Colonel made accusations based on bits of information he gathered from short conversations with Lester and even “seeing” something he actually did not see. Had he asked the right questions his conclusions would most likely not have caused him to take Lester’s life in the end of the movie.
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There was also one particular moment where Lester could have possibly saved his own life by telling the Colonel that he was actually not a homosexual. It was stated in our textbook Making Connections: Understanding Interpersonal Communication written by Kathy Sole that a very important part of communicating is making sure the message received is the correct message intended. It would appear that the Colonel has a problem with homosexuals but when he kissed Lester in the movie, there is more to understand about Colonel Frank’s sense of self.
As it says in our text “Today most researchers believe that who you think you are is a complex mix of how you see yourself; how others see you; what parents, teachers, and peers have told you about yourself; and what your society or culture tells you that you are or should be. ”(Sole, 2011) Colonel Frank must have never accepted his true self if he was a homosexual, instead he adapted to what others always believed he was. He appeared to have done his best to prove everyone else right.
Therefore, instead of the Colonel actually having a problem with homosexuals; he actually had a problem with himself. When the Colonel confronted Lester about his relationship with his wife, Lester’s responses were vague in a way that further solidified Frank’s assumptions that Lester was gay. When he kissed Lester and Lester said, “I think you have the wrong idea” Colonel Frank took it as a rejection, when Lester could have said, “No, man, I am not gay” or something of the sort.
If Lester had responded in a way that did not humiliate or make Frank feel inadequate he may not have killed Lester. Colonel Frank and, Lester both should have delved a little deeper, and made more of an effort to understand what each of them were actually trying to say, or the messages they were trying to convey. If they had done a better job and communicating, Lester would have been aware of Colonel Frank’s assumption that he was gay, and able to correct Frank.
If Colonel Frank had asked the right questions after Lester’s vague responses, he would have understood that Lester’s relationship with his wife was not “just for show” because he was gay but rather because they were trying to be the couple that others thought, they should be.