‘Our surroundings can be both threatening and comforting. Discuss in relation to the behaviour of Michael Oher in the film.’ Some settings we encounter in our lives are both familiar and dangerous to us. John Lee Hancock shows this particularly well through the character of Michael Oher in ‘The Blind Side’. Settings such as the Touhy house, the Christian school and the suburb of Hurt Village, where Michael’s mother lives, serve as examples of these contradictory places.
Briarcrest Christian School is a place where Michael originally feels threatened, but becomes a place of comfort for him as the movie progresses. When he first moves to the school, Michael does not know anyone, and is daunted by the lack of diversity in the students. He does not seem to understand the work, or wish to do it, and his teachers do not try to help him. This is evident in his poem ‘White Walls’, which is found in the rubbish by one of his teachers. In his writing Michael outlines that “[he looks] and [he sees] white everywhere, white walls, white floors, and a lot of white people.” Here Hancock refers to Michael’s race and how lonely he feels at the school. Michael also says that he ‘[has] no idea of anything [the teachers] are talking about’ and that they ‘[expect him] to do the problems on [his] own’, implying that he is not confident with working independently.
The scene where the teachers hear his poem is when things start to change. They realise that Michael needs help, and start to provide him with it; letting him take tests orally and giving him extra support. The teachers discover that ‘Michael Oher is not stupid’ and his grades start improving. This implies that he does want to learn, and is becoming more acclimatised to the work and school. Through his friendship with SJ, he becomes more socially accepted and school is no longer so lonely for him. As the film progresses, Michael grows to be comfortable at the school, and with his grade improvement, feels like he belongs with his peers.
Another place Michael finds both comforting and threatening is the suburb where he grew up. He lived there with his mother during his early childhood, and yet ironically it is one of the places where Michael is most likely to be hurt. He feels a sense of duty to his mother, and returns to her despite.