American Beauty

Try to analyze one of them.

Lester Burnham’s antagonists are the two figures who seek to end his life at the climax----Carolyn and Colonel Fitts, but they also represent the much broader “forces of antagonism”. Try to analyze one of them.

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Col. Fitts is an intensely self-loathing closet homosexual. His two worlds are forever at friction. He lives the illusion of a masculine military man while forever keeping any positive emotions at bay. The colonel extends his hatred to anything that he perceives as a threat. This pretty much means anything that evokes positive feelings inside of him. He lives in a constant state of fear that his secret will some how get out and that his denial might break down. The Colenel is hence unable to foster any kind of relationship with his friends or family. When he sees Lester lifting weights on the final night, the colonel has reached his breaking point. His conformity to the illusion of "masculinity" is stripped away leaving him vulnerable. The Colonel can not accept this so he lashes out at his perceived threat, poor Lester Bernham.

Carolyn and Colonel Fitts are similar in that both cannot come to terms of their reality. Carolyn's marriage is on the rocks, and while it is not clear who is to blame-- herself, her husband, or both-- her infidelity with the local real estate competitor is the culmination of the divestment of her marriage and investment into the extramarrital. She cannot admit to being the cause, even partially, of her marriage failure, but is forced to when she and her flame drive up to the drive through window. Yet she repeated consoles herself by telling herself how she will not be the victim. Colonel Fitts, in the same way, cannot admit to having homosexual arousal, and denies his homosexuality by making fun of the gay partners in the neighborhood. Both Carolyn and Colonel Fitts are left with the only solution to carry on their denial; that is, to remove the one person who has smacked reality into their heads however gentle way as possible. Lester, who has violent tendencies -- throwing plates against the wall as Carolyn interrupts him at dinner and raising his voice in a threatening manner towards his daughter, Jane -- merely tells Carolyn at the drive through window, "you don't get to tell me what to do anymore," in a composed and controlled way of communicating compared to what he could have done. Lester, all macho with his sports car in the driveway and his bench press weights in the garage, speaks in the most gentle way possible to Colonel Fitts, "you have the wrong idea." Lester is killed by Fitts but it could have been Carolyn as well.