Pay It Forward


When I think of a character’s death, my mind immediately goes to Pay It Forward. In this film, an eleven-year-old boy named Trevor is given a homework assignment to do something to change the world. Trevor devises a system in which you do a favor for three random people. However, these favors must be an act the people cannot perform themselves. When completing these favors, he asks the person to ‘pay it forward’ and to do the same for three strangers. The movement quickly spread in the area. At the end of the film, Trevor sees two boys beating up another kid, and decides to try and help. However, one of the bullies pulls out a knife and stabs Trevor.

In this case, Trevor’s death is sudden and traumatic. The reason I think of this film when thinking of death is because his death was so unexpected. Trevor’s death scene took only a little over two minutes, in a film that lasted 123 minutes. His death is the most memorable part of the movie for me, and that’s because of how the media chose to portray his death. In this case, media influences how we see death, because many times in films and television, a character’s death is traumatic. Very rarely does a person die from old age in movies or television.

In the hospital after Trevor was stabbed, you see the mom and her boyfriend waiting, when the doctor approaches, says a few words, and the mom collapses in tears. The word ‘dead’ was never used, or even any synonyms of the word. We knew Trevor died simply from the imagery used. This could be the fact that our culture does like talking about death. We use it to make a powerful movie, but to actually say it is too forward. Even though we could not hear what the doctor said, and even though we did not hear the word ‘dead’, there was no confusion that Trevor had died.

News of Trevor’s death was played on TV. The final scene of the film showed Trevor’s mom and her boyfriend watching home movies, when they look out the window to see thousands of people who were affected by the ‘pay it forward’ movement. All the people were holding candles as a tribute to Trevor. This final scene was visually powerful, because the audience was able to see the number of people who were affected by Trevor’s death. Still, the media did not show what happened to the boys who stabbed Trevor or their consequences. It was almost like the media chose to avoid the actual issues of his death, and left his death on a positive note because of the changes he made in his short life.


One thought on “Pay It Forward

  1. Pay it Forward was an outstanding film. I think you did an excellent job on your analysis. I like that you discussed the most important scenes which include: Trevor’s death, the hospital, and the lighting of the candles. Trevor’s death was not only tragic because of “how” he died, but because of his age. People are in shock when they hear about a death of a child because children are so pure and innocent; they have not gotten the chance to live. I agree it was very traumatic. Because Trevor was a young, inspirational, and caring child, his death affected not only his parents, but the town and his peers as well. That is why the town comes together, to honor the great person Trevor was. A perfect example of how people react to death is demonstrated when the mother sees the truth in the doctor’s facial expressions and automatically feels a rush of sadness and devastation like any realistic mother would.

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