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The movie The Cider House Rules is based on the classical novel of the same name by John Irving. A film directed by Lasse Hallström unfolds in 40s and explores the lives of St. Cloud’s residents, a place where people make their way to either “add a child to their life or leave one behind”. The orphanage is run by Dr. Wilbur Larch who himself became “a father of none, but a caretaker of many”. Another key character in the movie is Homer Wells. He was “twice adopted, twice returned”, but the doctor finds Homer to be a special and deep child. He decides to share all the knowledge he has and teach the boy obstetrics. For the old man, it was also a part of “expressing his father’s love to a son he never had”.
While assisting Dr. Larch, Homer faces the illegal business of abortion and judges it at first. The young man is sure people must be responsible for their actions and the consequences of their desires. During their ride in the truck, two men argue whether or nor it is absolutely fair to be alive under any circumstances. The wise man tries to persuade a novice that it is possible to change your opinion in case someone else’s life is in your hands. A bright example of Dr. Larch doing a great job helping unhappily pregnant women is a young lady who comes to St. Clouds with a difficult case of pregnancy. The patient tried to help herself and went for abortion to an unqualified person who left a crochet hook inside her. Such negligence resulted in serious complications and worsened her state of health. She dies as the doctor says from “ignorance and secrecy”. He could have saved her life and provided the necessary aid. Homer expects people to be responsible for their children, but he needs to give them a right whether or not to have them. The world is full of imperfections. Dr. Larch cannot stop wondering at Homer having such high expectations of people.
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Homer is of use in the orphanage and helping the stuff. One day, Dr. Larch tells him to take a delivery believing he is a skilled and gifted surgeon. By doing this, Wilbur Lurch gives a chance to Homer to be a doctor. However, the young man disagrees and prefers to fix the movie instead. He is hesitating about his true life and whether he really belongs to this place. Homer is young and hungry for life. One day, he takes off and leaves with a young couple who dropped to Dr. Lurch for abortion. “It’s your heart; you have to take it along with you” – these are the words Dr. says to Homer when he decides to leave the orphanage and explore the world.
On their way to Wally’s parents’ house, Homer and his new acquaintances stop by the ocean. Candy finds a glass at the shore; it is smooth and nice to touch. This moment conveys a certain symbolic meaning to a conversation she has with Homer. ike the ocean shapes the glass by rubbing it against sand, people change their mind once they end up in circumstances, which make them think differently. Glass needs a year or so to be shaped. Time is needed for a person to accommodate to any change in his/her life and adapt to a situation he/she is thrown into.
When Homer joins apple pickers at Walley’s home, he is the only educated men among the workers. He was the first one to bring it to apple pickers that there are some rules they are supposed to follow. Workers cannot read, so they are not able to obey the rules set for them. This scene connects the idea with pregnant women who cannot keep and raise their children, so they decide to get them aborted. Arthur Rose acknowledgers that those are not their rules since the lines were written by people having no direct involvement in apple picking business. He emphasizes that none of them has ever written those rules, so there is no need to read them. Arthur is sure that the ones who “simply breathe the air of the cider house” cannot make rules. This scene takes a deeper meaning and puts in question rules as general terms. Can people really judge those who assist women in despair by performing abortions? How can one say what is wrong and what is immoral unless he or she ends up in that person’s shoes? Abortion is a very personal matter that often women are sure they will not have to consider till the moment they are unexpectedly faced with unwanted pregnancy (Arthur, 2000). Thus, rules are a perfect instrument in theory. However, when it comes to practice and real life, a person tends not to comply with them and goes by his own preferences.
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Under the pressure of the board of trustees, Dr. Larch presents the candidature of Homer as his possible replacement. He intentionally points out that the young man is not good enough for this position, but this is what available on the market. Knowing that the committee is likely to oppose his own choice, Dr. Larch succeeds in drawing attention to a young doctor’s profile. He breaks the rules and moral code when he falsifies diplomas for Homer, but he keeps in mind the orphanage future in the first place. Meanwhile, the young man is getting more and more attached to a charming Candy Kendall. They start having an affair despite Candy being in a relationship with Wally who is at war. An observer would find it immoral to engage with two men at a time, but for a young lady who cannot handle loneliness, it seems to be the only right choice. She crosses the line between morality and personal comfort going with the flow and following her impulses.
Throughout the movie, Homer has in mind that he is not a doctor, even though he has got all the necessary training and practice under the supervision of Dr. Larch. Does really a school diploma qualify you for being a doctor? Or, maybe, it is a strong will and commitment to hhelp those who are in need? Homer strives to learn new things and be of use at his new designation.
The new harvesting season comes and Mr. Rose’s apple pickers come again to the Worthingtons’ orchard. Homer discovers that Arthur’s daughter is pregnant. Candy seeking the way to help poor girl finds out that her own father impregnated her. Rose had no choice to decide whether or not she wants to be a mom. She was a victim of this malicious situation where she was helpless and had no options to choose from. Homer blames Arthur for sleeping with his own daughter, but the apple picker fights back saying he has no right to judge him of “lies and shame”. Despite his negative opinion on the abortion practice, Homer decides to help Rose whatever decision she makes. He performs the procedure, even though he was convinced he would never do it before. James Fieser (2008) argues that the most typical mistake when considering the abortion question is to think that all situations are alike and this kind of procedure is immoral by all means. As for the Homer’s experience, only now he acknowledges he is in the doctor’s business. Thus, he can help.
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When Candy is informed that Wally is coming from war paralyzed, she just wants to take her time and drowns in her thoughts. Homer starts a discussion with her that maybe it is just enough to wait and something would happen, but then he realizes that either way someone is going get hurt and it is no one’s fault. He is getting angry while continuing the dialogue about indifference and loitering. Homer is upset since Candy is going back to normal and she has to take care of Wally when he returns. At the same time, he is glad there will be no more idleness, no more “waiting and seeing” as we say. The young man finally makes up his mind and leaves the orchard for St. Clouds, the place where he can be of use and not just be a humble observer.
Lasse Hallström expertly mirrored the situation of a life choice and controversial debate between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life supporters. On the one hand, women are given a right to choose if they are willing to continue with their pregnancy or not. On the other hand, the life needs protection till the natural death (Abortion Controversy: Pro-Choice & Pro-Life). Homer, a person who was given birth, but left behind by his parents in the orphanage, changes his believes when he is thrown in the situation where he is the only one who can help poor Rose. He puts himself in charge of her problem and tries to handle it with care and the level of expertise he has earned when assisting Dr. Larch. He bails out a young girl who has been given no choice to decide on whether it is time for her to become a mother. When Homer agrees to support Rose in her decision, he appears to be the one to break his own rule in favor of common sense and a human’s well-being.
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