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The Notebook: Developmental Stages

In the 2004 movie, The Notebook, a dramatic love story between Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton.  The movie begins with an elderly man reading out of a notebook to an elderly woman as they are patients at a nursing home, both probably in their eighties.  The story follows the elderly two throughout their day as he reads her the story.  The story that is in the notebook tells the long forlorn love story of a wealthy seventeen year old, Allie, and the poor eighteen year old country boy, Noah.  The first part of the story retells a tale of summer love that eventually ends poorly when Allie’s parents forbid her to see Noah ever again.  The story continues on, giving short details of how their lives are proceeded separate from each other.  When the two come to be in their mid to late twenties, Allie who is pledged to get married to another man, but when she sees Noah’s picture in the paper with the house he promised to restore for her so many years before, she returns to see him.  In the end Allie must choose between her fiancé and Noah, and chooses to stay with Noah.  In this paper I am specifically examining Noah in early adulthood, and Allie in elderhood.  Two main developmental aspects that Noah experiences in early adulthood are how he copes with isolation, specifically with loneliness and depression, and also his exploration of intimate relationships.  In elderhood for Allie two main focuses of development are dementia and living arrangements within the nursing home.

First, Noah is coping with isolation quite a bit.  He is still working through the loss of the love of his life, Allie, his father’s death, and also, his saw his best friend die in the war.  After the war, Noah came back and spent most of his time with his father, but when his father died, he has no one left.  Noah would sleep with Martha Shaw, who was made a widow by the war, and this was the only contact made visible in Noah’s life in the movie.  As it is said in the movie, Noah used Martha Shaw to cover the loneliness that was resulting from the void left when Allie was torn out of his life.  All the events that have occurred with the loss of Allie and the death of both Fin and his father seems to have caused Noah to be greatly depressed, which he copes with by heavily drinking alcohol.  The only thing that seems to improve Noah’s loneliness and depression is the return of Allie.  Instead of working through this during the roughly ten year period since Allie left the first time, he instead continues to wallow in the loss of his love until her return.

The second major developmental aspect that Noah confronts during this period of early adulthood, is intimacy and the readiness for marriage.  Noah is willing to experience an intimacy with Martha Shaw in order to cope with his loneliness, but avoids having a real relationship with her.  Martha asks Noah to go on what would be consider dates, but he has an excuse not to do most of the activities and eventually just says not.  Noah has no desire to marry or have a true relationship with anyone but Allie.  Though most people in this period would be experiencing a readiness for marriage, Noah instead avoids relationships, but does use intimacy as a coping mechanism.

In a different developmental period, elderhood, Allie experiences dementia which greatly affects her everyday life.  Allie’s dementia is as a result to Alzheimer’s disease, and she has lost her memories of the past.  Allie does not remember that the man reading to her is her husband and she does not remember her children when they come to visit.  Due to Allie’s Alzheimer’s disease, it leads to another developmental aspect which is living arrangements in old age.  Due to Alzheimer’s, routine can be key to making this comfortable as they the disease progresses in their brain.  Family members are given the decision to be caregivers at home or to institutionalize them.  Allie’s family chose to put her in an institution where she could be cared for by other people, but with this Noah also choose to go to the nursing center with her so he could still somewhat care for her.  Within the institutionalized home, Allie could receive the care she needed from doctors and nurses without the burden being specifically on her husband and children.

Though there are other developmental periods for both characters as well as several other developmental aspects within these periods, these periods for these characters highly exemplify psychological development within a particular person.  Noah’s character further developed with the addition of the other periods of his life in the movie, but this is the period that most highly exemplifies the psychological part of his personality.  Similarly, Allie also shows development in her character over the year, but due to her development of Alzheimer’s, there is a very big psychological development.  Though Noah coped very poorly with his developmental aspects of early adulthood, with the help of her family, Allie was able to cope very well with elderhood.