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Any jury trial is bound to have some sort of conflict involved when coming to a verdict. The portrayal of a murder case in the movie, 12 Angry Men, involves many different examples of conflict, as well as the approaches to conflict used by different characters. Almost every conversation in the film involves conflict, since the characters are all debating whether or not the boy being tried for murder is guilty or not, but there are a few scenes in which different types of conflict and different approaches to conflict seem to stand out.
The room in which the men are sitting and debating the case has a table with each of the men sitting around it. Jury member number one, who sits at the head of the table, takes on the role as the leader of the discussion by formatting how the voting goes and asking all members whether they agree to any decisions made. In one scene, the older man with the summer cold comes over to jury member number one and tells, “stop being a kid.
K. I. D. Kid.” Jury member number one responds, “Just because I am trying to keep this thing organized? Here, you take the responsibility. I’ll just keep my mouth shut, that’s all.” This scene is an example of Ego/Identity conflict because of the beliefs that the man with the cold see’s jury member number one as being a kid because he is younger than him. Jury member number one seemed to take the responsibility of leading the group just because of his number, but the man with the cold seemed to get upset and create a conflict with him because of his age.
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The different types of characters in the jury decision create many different examples of approaches to conflict. Jury member number two, the quiet man with the glasses, becomes the target of many of the other characters. When the men are all going around and explaining their reasons for why they feel the boy is guilty, Jury member number three interrupts and says, “what about the switch-knife found in the man’s chest?” Jury member number two says, “Wait a second, there are some people who haven’t talked yet, shouldn’t we go in order?” Jury member number three says, “forget about the people who haven’t gone yet, be quiet will ya?” This causes jury member number two to quiet down and not respond. This approach to conflict is an example of competing because of the win-lose outcome of the conflict. Jury member number three makes sure that he uses his alpha male status and shuts down jury member number two without any complaint.
The last situation is an example of conflict as well as the approach to conflict. When the men choose to make an anonymous vote and one of them writes “not guilty” on the paper, jury member number three calls out the man who had grown up in the slums and says that he changed his vote because he fell for the preaching of the first member who felt the boy was not guilty. After yelling at the man, the old man finally admits to changing is vote. Later, jury member number three attempts to apologize for calling out the man who grew up in the slums and he just walks right past him without responding. This is an example of Ego/Identity conflict because jury member number three judged the man who grew up in the slums and expected him to change his vote because of his past. The approach to the conflict later is avoidance because the man who grew up in the slums chooses to not respond to the apology and walk right past the man without getting into any type of conflict.
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