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Musterlösung 2015: Analysis


Keshia Thomas and Officer Ryan (Crash) put their personal safety at risk for the sake of others. Compare the circumstances in which they so this and their reasons for doing so. (content 10 VP; language 15 VP)

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Both in real life and fictitious circumstances, the issue of racism has been marked not only by hatred and unforgivable violence, but also by courageous individuals standing up for what is right. In comparing the heroic deeds of Keshia Thomas and Officer Ryan – a central character in the movie “Crash” – similarities seem scarce at first, yet even the flawed policeman is ultimately capable of a selfless gesture.
In the true story of Keshia, events transpired around a KKK rally in liberal Ann Arbor. The young black female high school student witnessed how a white racist was being attacked by a mob when she decided to interfere (l. 12 ff.). Acting as a kind of heroic rescuer, it seems remarkable that the victim was, and remains to this day, a complete stranger to her. In contrast, Officer Ryan stumbles upon a situation that, first and foremost, requires him to act because of his job. After a fatal car accident in LA, the experienced white male policeman has to step in, firstly because he is on duty that day. After seeing a helpless black woman trapped in a car about to explode, Ryan nevertheless decides to step in, even though no one could have blamed him had he stood aside. The situation is further charged as victim and rescuer know each other – Ryan having previously sexually harassed her. They recognize each other, and he still does not hesitate in offering his crucial help. He decides to act despite the charged look on her face at the moment when she realizes her former tormentor is watching her on the verge of death.
The reasons, in both cases, are manifold. For Keshia, it started with preventing the mob from taking over (see ll. 19f.). She felt a strong moral obligation (ll. 20f.) to protect a stranger from bodily harm (ll. 22f). Her religious beliefs (l. 30) also played a part. Moreover, she herself had been a victim of senseless violence (l. 30f.) and was, finally, also defending a stranger’s freedom of speech (ll. 33f.).
Officer Ryan has a professional duty to save lives. Despite his sexually harassing the woman at the onset of the movie, his character is richly layered, and he shows compassion throughout many scenes. Finally, he might have a desire to make up for past mistakes, although this is difficult to deduce from the movie itself.
Ultimately, Thomas and Ryan are obviously very different. Yet even in imagining the policeman as not just a character, but an average citizen of flesh and bone, there is one striking similarity that lifts these two from the broad spectrum of more “ordinary” good deeds: They do not act to attract attention, but on a whim, without ever stopping to consider the ramifications of their actions. This marks their deeds as heroic, regarddless of the fact that one of them is a simple student, and the other filled with the raw instinct of a racist, sexual predator.

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