Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Character Evaluation: Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski
Walt Kowalski, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, in “Grand Torino” is a Polish American, Korean War veteran who served in the US Army veteran and is a retired Ford factory worker. Walt was recently widowed after 50 years of marriage and starts to isolate himself from the rest of his family, namely his son’s, their wives, and children. All the while Walt has to deal with a bad cough resulting in blood every time he coughs and is dealing with an invasion of Hmong descendent into his long time neighborhood. A Hmong family named the Vang Lors, moves next door which really puts Walt on edge, a man living alone except with the company of Daisy, a labrador retriever.
Neuroticism can best describe Walt Kowalski when Grand Torino begins. He seems to be dealing with depression from losing of his wife, who he loved dearly for 50 years. Along with his depression comes angry hostility, because of his wife’s death and from the pressure of his son’s who seem to be distant and non-understanding of Walt’s pain. On top of that angry hostility surfaces as well because Walt believes he is losing his beloved neighborhood to an invasion of Hmong residents and the local Catholic priest is constantly visiting Walt and tries to convince him to open him up to talking about his pains and tries to convince Walt to come to church. Although Walt does display conscientiousness because, he was a war veteran, a dedicated Ford factory worker and devoted husband. He is self-discipline and orderly, because he resists the temptation of letting his life fall apart because the world around him is changing vastly and dramatically. A recently deceased wife and new unknown neighbors of an unfamiliar origin is quite much to handle.
As Grand Torino continues Walt displays openness to experience as he becomes familiar with his new neighbors the Vang Lors and by spending time with Sue Vang Lor, the daughter of the Vang Lors and comes to terms with the death of his wife. Feelings and actions are shown by Walt toward the Vang Lors as he has sympathy for the young Hmong neighbor Thao Vang Lor, who tries to steal his prized Ford Grand Torino. Instead of turning the young man in to the authorities Walt teaches him values of what it is to be a man and a provider for one’s family. Walt also teaches the Thao skills and trades that help him obtain a job with one of Walt’s friends. Walt displays agreeableness as he opens his heart to the Vang Lors and shows modesty as he starts to realize he is the same as his neighbors just another human being living life as one’s sees fit. He develops trust with the Vang Lors and starts to come to their aid whenever help is need. He also allows the Thao to drive his prized Ford Grand Torino when he has a date with a young woman.
Life seems to be progressing along for Walt and his neighbors in positive ways and extraversion flourishes in Walt. Warmth has filled Walt’s heart and he shows warmth and gregariousness to the Vang Lor’s and considers Thao and Sue his own children. Positive emotions encompass Walt’s life again, until one fateful day Fong "Spider" a relative of the Vang Lor’s and his gang member friends continue to cause trouble for the Thao and Sue. These gang members are those whose idea it was to still Walt’s car in the first place. The gang members take action against Walt and the Vang Lors by first performing a drive-by style shooting by firing shots into the Vang Lor’s home, then they kidnap, beat, and rape Sue the sister of Thao. Walt is ready to take action against the gang members in order to free the Vang Lors for the oppression of the gang and allow Thao and Sue freedom. Walt shows a level of altruism rarely seen by going to the gang member’s home and baiting them to shot and kill him by pretending to pull a gun out of his jacket, but it was only a lighter. Walt sacrificed his life for others, for the well being of the Vang Lors.
Walt Kowalski displayed angry hostility and was a depressed man until the Vang Lors changed his life. Walt had a reason to live life again and a reason to share his life with others. As the relationship grew between Walt and the Vang Lors he grew into a tender-minded and gregarious neighbor and father figure who is the definition of altruism. In Walt’s will he left all his worldly possessions to the church his wife attended, to the Vang Lors, and left his prized Ford Grand Torino to Thao Vang Lor.