Erikson's Perspective On The Personality Of Landon Carter Term Paper


¶ … Landon Carter's Character through Erik Erikson's stages of development

Erik Erikson was an American developmental psychologist who was born in Germany and went to postulate eight stages of psychological development. He developed a model that talked about the eight stages every human passes through as he grows. These stages depict and analyze a person's life from when they are baby till they die. It mentions how in every stage a person is presented with problems and challenges. Every stage depicts a crisis which has to be resolved or else it will create problems in the next stage. Thus, for a person to attain a positive personality they need to attain positive goals of that stage and progress smoothly to the next one. (Rosenthal, Gurney, & Moore 2)

A Walk to Remember is a popular romantic drama movie released in 2002. With the setting in North Carolina, the movie revolves around the life of a school heart throb Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan, who is complete opposite of Landon. The movie starts with a prank ending up wrong with Carter having to take part in the school play. Where Carter is not very serious about his life, Jamie is a much more focused and determined student. Preferring to stay alone and do her thing, Jamie has actually has plans for her life. Wanting to improve, Landon decides to ask Jamie for help and hopefully become a better actor. The play becomes the reason for their interactions to increase. In spending time with her, Landon changes as person and his feelings also change.

Regardless of what their intentions were in the beginning, they both fall for each other by the middle of the movie. The movie comes to a climax when it is revealed that Jamie has Leukemia and does not have much time left. Despite the troubles, Landon doesn't leave her side and works to make her wishes to come true. Landon is put to test and that is when he marries Jamie and proves he does truly love her. Over the course of meeting Jamie and loving her, Landon evolves as a person to a great extent.


Landon Carter is an immature character in the beginning of the movie. He is a popular kid who hangs out with the crowd that's more into pranks and insulting people. He is not really one of the nice people in the school yet most of the people want to be his friend. After getting punished for his pranks, Carter is sent to community service through which he spends more time with Jamie. His family is a much controlling one which is depicted by his father deciding which university he will go in. Thinking of himself as a rebel, he goes on to be rude with others. Spending time with Jamie, Carter learns how to be selfless and considerate of others. She shows her that the meanings of goals, ambitions and of faith.


Erikson's theory has been divided into eight levels with each level representing a new problem with an enhanced result and conclusion. The first one is more or less in the first year of life. This is the phase that is the most affected by closest around the baby such as his or her mother. In this phase, the baby tries to see whether he can trust or rely on the people around him. The level of care and cuddling given to the baby develops his sense of trust and reliance on the world out there. (Elkind, 7) Secondly, there is a stage which is from age two to three years which is known as autonomy vs. doubt. This reflects the child's ability to do simple things on his own and look around and explore the world around him. From age four...


This stage is known as initiative Vs guilt and there needs to be a good balance between the two to ensure positive personality. (McLeod 1) The stage 4 is known as that of Industry vs. Inferiority and that is basically representative of elementary school years of the child. This stage depicts the child's ability to make and start off new projects. A negative result of this stage is a feeling of inferiority in the later stages. (Elkind 11) The age from thirteen to nineteen or adolescence has been termed Identity Vs role confusion and has been called the most important stage out of all of them. That is where the child gets a clear cut idea of who is and what he is capable of.
It has also been proposed that teenagers who leave this stage unsure have psychological problems in the future. Along with Erikson, many other psychosocial researchers have went on to say that when an individual does not have in mind a clear picture of their identity, they go on to have more psychological adjustment later. (Beaumont and Zukanovic). Following adolescence, the stage comes where a person is attempting to fight between intimacy and isolation. It is in this stage where friends and love partners place a big impact on the person's personality. The second last stage is when the person is trying to enter into the realms of parenthood and the professional life. In this stage, the person is fighting between concerned only for himself as opposed to caring for his family, his parents and the world in general as well. (Elkind 16) The last stage is a mere rivalry between ego identity and misery. This stage lasts from age 65 till death and is where the person either is proud of how he has spent his life or is disappointed by it.


The first stage even though not shown in the movie could be estimated to be a rough one in Landon Carter's life. Where his mother seems comforting, Landon's sense of trust is not too strong when it comes to his father. In this stage the infant learns to see the people around him especially his parents. He learns to see that he can trust people and that nothing bad can happen to him. This stage is accomplished positively and thus the child develops a sense of trust around him when his parents are comforting and of a loving nature.

Landon's mother is shown as a caring and concerned mother. As is seen by her cleaning the kitchen or waking him up for the Saturday classes. Since his mother isn't strict or of a demanding nature, part of Landon's personality could be build on optimism and the fact that he can rely on people.

Mr. Carter: Landon, don't walk away.

Landon: You taught me how.

This interaction between Landon and his father shows weak trust between the two. The way Landon gets infuriated with even the mere mentioning of his father shows frustration and lack of trust. As can be inferred from the movie, his father was not a fatherly figure to him. It can also be seen that if he wasn't fatherly in his adolescence, not much would have changed in the early stage of Landon's life.

An unhealthy stage one also leads to development of negative initial feelings for a person. The child feels as if people are not helpful or friendly. As mentioned earlier, once a crisis is not resolved, it goes on till later stage. The crisis can finally be resolved when the person finds a person he or she can fully trust. (Elkind 2) This can explain his constant snapping at Jamie in the bus as well. Seeing how Landon is not very patient and quickly angered, he can be seen to have an initially negative attitude towards people he doesn't know. The fact that Landon becomes a patient and considerate person at the end of the movie could explain that he has found the person to trust on, which is Jamie. It is a possibility that the stage one, which was left at the mistrust level, had now been completed with Jamie by his side.


This stage is such that the child is beginning to explore the outer world. It is also in this stage that they are expected to complete simple tasks on their own. The way their parents react to them accomplishing tasks can go on to affect their personality. There is an emergence of independence in this stage. Children will either be proud of them or have a doubt in all that they do. As mentioned earlier, Landon's dad is a dominant parent and is more prone to order than to see what the child wants to do. It could have been possible that Landon was subject to ridicule and demands in his child hood as well. If children are criticized and live under the influence of controlling parents, they go on to feel deficient in their ability to make in the world.(McLeod 1) Kids go on to depend on others, have little self-worth and also question…

Sources Used in Documents:


A Walk to Remember. Dir. Adam Shankman. Perf. Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2002. DVD.

Beaumont, Sherry L., & Zukanovic, Ray. "Identity Development in Men and Its Relation to Psychosocial Distress and Self-Worth." Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science. January (2005) Web.

Elkind, D. "Erik Erikson's Eight Ages of Man." New York Times. New York Times, 5 April 1970. Web. 15 November 2012.

Gross, Francis L. Introducing Erik Erikson: An invitation to his thinking. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 1987.Print
McLeod, Saul. "Erik Erikson | Psychosocial Stages."2008. Web. 16 November 2012. Retrieved from

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