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Joanna Jelen

Hi Peter — Greetings from sunny beach in S. Carolina 🙂

Justyna has a few, rather naĂŻve assumptions when she arrives to America. Her morals and believes are shaking when reality hits.

  1. Immigrants’ dream: in America, money lie on the street (sloth, pride)—she never works harder in her life: three jobs (in her country she would consider them beneath her), langue barrier (learning English), must rely on herself (parents, who always helped, are away)—all these teach her to be humble and appreciate everything, which before she took for granted). If she fails America, she has to return to Poland with no job prospects, most likely to stay with her parents again.
  2. Getting married for green card—easy, peasy, she just finds a guy, they have a gentlemen agreement, and five years later they’ll divorce. Wrong.
    • Time is running (no idling)
    • It’s a fraud punished by law (yeah, but so many other immigrants do it…and those who got caught are imprisoned, had to pay $250,000 fines, and are deported)—cheating the law
    • Men who are willing to commit the crime may have shady characters—can she risk getting involved with someone like that? What else those men may want from her? Sex? Is she willing to sell herself?
    • It’s expensive—the fee to pay to a prospective husband may be as much as a cost of a new car. Can she afford it? How? What type of jobs is she willing to take?
    • If the offer comes from a friend, is it fair to pull him into a scheme like that, against the law?
    • Is it really just a gentlemen agreement? What about marriage vows? What about her parents’ wonderful marriage she always wanted for herself?
    • Later, she falls in love with Jay—how can she marry another man? Is it still a gentlemen agreement then?

Justyna overcomes all of the above (or tries to) but the last three bullets—those she can’t bend; they are against her morals and believes. All others, they teach her a lesson, which perhaps she couldn’t learn as quickly or as well if she was still in her country under her parents’ wings. The last three bullets are against what her family taught her. At the end, she fails her want and although her heart is broken, she chooses to honor the values: love, friendship, loyalty.

PS. I’m still thinking about empathy for Veronique, that’s why I didn’t do ex. 4. I’m still not finding any excuse for her doings. Unless—to make it as a contrast to Justyna—I’d use Veronique’s parents. They raised her to be the winner not matter what, no matter who she destroys on the way—that’s the only way to succeed. I think it’s not uncommon for parents to raise kids with this belief, however Veronique is an adult now and should know better and judge what’s she is doing is wrong. So, I’m still stuck…




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