I Coulda Been a Contender

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"I coulda been a contender." Do you think Terry only has himself to blame? In his 1954 film “On the Waterfront”, Elia Kazan portrays the transformation of Terry the protagonist, from being an indifferent person who is lack of motivation, to a brave, determined man who fights for what he thinks is right. His famous line “I coulda been a contender.” shows Terry’s pain to lose his boxing career and that he is reconciled to his current life as working on the dock. He blames Charlie as the one who caused him to lose his boxing career and he also blames himself for his lack of bravery to act according to his own will. Despite all these, with the support and guidance of Father Barry and Edie, and finally the death of Charlie, Terry is awakened and is confident enough to fight like a contender in accordance to his conscience. His actions no longer depend on others and he finally wins the respect of the other longshoremen. Kazan clearly shows that Terry has his brother Charlie to blame for making him a bum. In the cabin, while Charlie is meant to bribe Terry with a job so that he would keep quiet about the deeds of the union, Terry expressed his disappointment in Charlie. “It was you… you was my brother Charlie; you shoulda looked out for me a little bit.” Terry’s tone in speaking shows his pain and sorrow that Charlie places his own benefits above his passion and prospect. Charlie knows Terry has potential in boxing, but he forces him to lose the title so that he could win Friendly’s trust and favor. This ruins Terry’s reputation on the boxing field, so he could only work for Friendly as a longshoreman and as a person who assist their illegal activities. He was neither a core member of the union nor a worker accepted by other longshoremen on the dock. When Edie asked which side is he with, he replies “I’m with me, Terry.” He does not have a clear stand and his actions
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