Humans are basically social beings and just like in “Million Dollar Baby”, our ultimate happiness and despair is founded in relationships. Satisfaction at work, at play and in family life depends mainly on the quality of our friendships and loves. In a national survey, found that most people consider it more important to have good friends and a happy family life than to have financial security. Based on a question posed by Klinger in 1977, “What is it that makes your life meaningful?
”, almost all respondents mentioned being loved and wanted (Dwyer, 1). “Million Dollar Baby” is a bout a woman who is strong-minded to create something out of herself, and a man who doesn’t want to do anything for this woman, and will finally do everything. The plot written by Paul Haggis, is based on “Rope Burns” by veteran fight manager Jerry Boyd (under the pseudonym E. X. Toole) which takes out of the blue turns before it reaches its devastating and controversial conclusion.
More specifically, Maggie Fitzgerald (played by Hilary Swank), is the protagonist of the story, a typical female amateur who wants to show or establish that she is not worthless, by training and pushing herself to the limits to become a successful boxer. She is trained by Frank Dunn (played by Clint Eastwood, also the dramatic film director), who is considered to be a down-and-out boxing trainer. Frank Dunn is already placed outside the field of boxing by most of society, as well as his estranged daughter Katie.
Another notable character is the ex-boxer Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris (played by Morgan Freeman) who is observed to be the narrator in some of the movie’s non-dialogue scenes. In the movie, there are interpersonal relationships which can be observed and these interpersonal relationships greatly affect the plot in the movie. A father-daughter interpersonal relationship can be observed between Frank and Katie, and a similar relationship can also be observed between Frank and Maggie or Dupris and Maggie. In addition to this, a long-time friendship can also be observed between Frank and Dupris.
In this paper, the interpersonal relationship between Frank Dunn and Maggie Fitzgerald as well as the interpersonal relationship between Frank Dunn and katie, will be evaluated. Frank Dunn and Maggie Fitzgerald’s relationship resembles the relationship of Frank and Katie. First of all, Frank Dunn does not have a good rapport with Maggie. He is also reluctant in training Maggie, who is about the same age as her daughter, because he fears the development of emotional attachments to her, the same way as he fears the development of his relationship with Katie.
In addition to this, Frank does not trust the capabilities of Maggie and believes that Maggie does not have what it takes to succeed in the boxing ring. However, one good thing about this relationship is that Maggie does not submit to rejection and instead, she tries her best despite the odds in showing that she can do it. She simply cannot accept a “no” from Frank Dunn and tried to prove her worth by constantly training in the boxing gym. Maggie can be observed in the film to be persistent in learning boxing, despite the fact that nobody was coaching her or telling her the basics of boxing.
She was also teased by the other boxers in the boxing gym because of her condition. Due to the positive attitude showed by Maggie, Frank was able to recognize her potentials and her hardwork and finally decided to train her. From this, it can be said that the trust within their relationship was not initially present, however, because of continuous effort, it was gained little by little. In addition to this, there is a poor communication between Frank and Maggie during the beginning of Maggie’s training (during the times when she was not helped by Frank).
Frank would only talk to Maggie in order to put her out of the gym. Maggie on the other hand, mainly responded with actions or by training. Somehow, she made her actions speak louder than her words. Actions are indeed persuasive, however, in interpersonal relationships, it is more important to tell what things vocally. By doing this, misunderstandings or possibilities of interpersonal conflicts are reduced. Moreover, the interpersonal relationship in their workplace was not that good either.
To improve the interpersonal relationships in their workplace (boxing gym), and in particular clear communication between Maggie and Frank (the boxer and the manager), assertion and communication skills are useful. These can be learnt on a suitable training course, and attendance on such a course could be recommended to all new staff who appear to have a deficit in these skills. Regular meetings between the coaches, administrators of the gym and counseling coordinator are essential to agree policies and disseminate information to other boxers and workers inside the gym.
Counselors and trainees on placement who may have deficits in specific interpersonal skills usually receive assertion and communication skills training, especially if their counseling is adversely affected. Some may require personal therapy if they hold back from challenging clients due to fear of being rejected (just like the fear which Frank Dunn had with regards to finding, making and accepting title fights for his boxers). To reduce interpersonal conflict that may arise from staff members exhibiting Type A behavior, a reduction in workload may be beneficial.
This would be in addition to adequate disputation by their counselor, or sometimes colleagues, of any unnecessary internal demands they may hold. A number of organization methods of preventive stress management may be used. These include team building, social support, role analysis and goal setting. Briefly, team building is a method to resolve interpersonal conflict by confronting issues and coming to a group resolution. Social support of coaches and friends generally helps to buffer the effect of stressors.
Role analysis is undertaken to clarify an employee’s work role and thereby reduce stress caused by role ambiguity and role conflict. Goal setting concentrates specifically on the relationship between the individual and her line manager so that they know each other’s objectives (Dryden, 149). Another interpersonal relationship which is affected by the relationship of Frank and Maggie is the relationship of Frank and Katie. Just like the interpersonal relationship of Frank and Maggie at first, the father and daughter relationship of Frank and Katie had a poor communication.
Frank Dunn has a separated relationship with Katie and that communication, mainly through letters or mails, do not succeed. Frank Dunn tried to consult a priest with regards to the behavior and the absence of response from his daughter, however, the priest was not able to provide a good advice to Frank Dunn, and instead, suspected that Frank Dunn was not actually sending letters. I believe that Frank Dunn was simply afraid of reconnecting from his daughter and that he is afraid of her daughter’s rejection.
I also believe that Frank Dunn simply lacked self-confidence and trust in his self that he can still arrange or fix his relationship with his daughter. Again, in interpersonal relationships, fear of rejection greatly affects the outcome of the relationship, and in a negative manner for most of the time. There probably exists no greater threat to a person’s self-esteem than to be the target of interpersonal rejection. Rejection indicates or shows the loss of a potentially meaningful relationship, and termination of the bond alone may be overwhelming.
But the repercussions of rejection go far beyond the broken relationship. Rejection may be understood as a sign that one lacks (or no longer possesses) the personal qualities that make one a desirable relationship partner. A person who is ignored by family members, excluded from a group, or jilted by a lover may infer that he or she is incompetent, unattractive, or unskilled in social graces. Thus, rejection not only severs a potentially important relational attachment but also poses a strong threat to one’s overall sense of worth (Leary, 167).
However, this does not mean that one should be totally afraid of rejection. Rejection is not inevitable. Maggie is a good example of a person who was able to overcome rejection, and in return gain more than what she expected. I believe that if Frank Dunn, persists on communicating or reconnecting with his daughter, the interpersonal relationship between the two can still be saved and further developed. In addition to this, it should be best for Frank Dunn to contemplate on his self and rebuild his self-confidence or his trust to his self.
Frank Dunn should keep visiting Katie and talk to her face-to-face and let her see his efforts. This way, not only will he be able to produce a “Million Dollar Baby” in the boxing ring, but also within his family.
Dryden, Windry. The Stresses of Counselling in Action. London: Sage Publications Ltd. , 1995. Million Dollar Baby. 2004. Clint Eastwood, Albert Ruddy and Tom Rosenberg, December 15. Leary, Mark R. Interpersonal Rejection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.