Citizen Kane Essay

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The difficulty of interpreting a person’s life once that life has ended is the central theme of Citizen Kane. After viewing an in-depth, filmed biography of Kane’s life, the producer of the biography asks his reporters a simple question: Who, really, was Charles Foster Kane? The producer recognizes that a man isn’t necessarily the sum of his achievements, possessions, or actions, but that something deeper must drive him. His clue that Kane was more than his public accomplishments is the last word Kane uttered: “Rosebud.” Kane’s life story unfolds in layers through the reporter Thompson's investigation and is told by a succession of people who were close to him. These various points of view are imbued with people’s particular prejudices, and the recollections are ultimately ambiguous and unreliable. Kane never gets to tell his own life story, and we must wonder how much his telling of it would differ from the reminiscences of his associates. None of these people ever really knew what drove Kane to do the things he did. Only Thatcher would have had the chance to fully understand Kane, but he was too concerned with making money to have any compassion for a lonely child. He viewed Kane through a distant, mature lens of acquisition and conservatism. The differing perspectives on Kane’s life, especially in the absence of Kane’s own point of view, force us to question what was truly important in the life of Charles Foster Kane as well as to ponder what constitutes a life in general. Judging by Kane's last word, the most important pieces of his life were not the things that made him newsworthy, such as his newspaper successes and political ambitions, nor his friendships and associations. Instead, as Kane's life comes to an end, he grasps at a memory from his childhood. His defining moment was the point where his life changed irrevocably for what appears to be the better,

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