Key lifespan developmental issues in The Cider House Rules

Cider House Rules is a 1999 film produced by Richard Gladstein & co. Adapted from a novel of the same name by John Irving, the film garnered both commercial as well as critical success. The movie is of special relevance to American audiences, for it deals with the subject of abortion which has been a politically and culturally contentious issue for a long time. The plot is centered on the life of Homer Wells, an orphan, who grows up in an orphanage after being returned twice by his foster parents. The movie contains many poignant and touching moments in it that lend itself for psychological analysis. For example, from a developmental psychology viewpoint, the fact that Homer is returned twice to the orphanage was bound to leave deep scars on the formative psyche of the young boy, who would struggle to form lasting attachments to other humans as a consequence. Also, the manner in which he was treated by these couples was also abusive to a degree. These abusive relationships interrupt Homer Wells’ proper psychological development as is evident from further events in the story.

The relationship between Dr. Larch (played by Michael Caine) and young Homer needs to be studied in the afore-mentioned context. Despite getting trained to perform abortions (under the tutelage of Dr. Larch) Homer personally disapproves of the practice. This comes to a dramatic fore when he is faced with a situation in which Erykah (the daughter of Mr. Rose) comes to him for abortion. But considering that Erykah was forcefully and incestuously impregnated by her own father, Homer makes an exception to his usual rule and performs the operation. The true character of Homer’s psychological makeup further comes to light when he resorts to kill Mr. Rose in order to prevent Erykah getting raped again. Having been raised in the orphanage, assisting Dr. Larch in numerous abortion operations, Homer grows distasteful of the practice and indignant of unwanted pregnancies. It is a reflection of his psychological maturation that he acts bravely in killing Mr.Rose and saving his daughter. This is an emotionally powerful moment in the film, for it shows the positive side of Homer. This cinematic moment succeeds in honestly and realistically portraying the young man’s outrage at an intended injustice.

Finally, in the ending scenes of the film, Homer is brought back to the Orphanage and designated the new director upon Dr. Larch’s untimely death. But before Dr. Larch succumbs due to overconsumption of ether, he makes arrangements with authorities to see to it that Homer Wells succeeds his position as director of the institution. This is a touching and emotionally powerful moment in the film, for it shows Dr. Larch’s trust and faith in his young ward. Dr. Larch had seen much potential in young Homer despite the latter’s reluctance to perform abortions. Considering that Homer was himself a product of unwanted pregnancy, he comes to the realization that he now carries the duty of performing abortions.

Reference:

The Cider House Rules, Motion Picture, produced by Richard Gladstein & Co, Distributed by Miramax Films, 1999