American History X Detailed Summary
Detailed Summary The story begins with a black and white flashback of the moment when Derek commits the murder of the two young Afro-American’s. Danny wakes up to see one of the men standing by the front door but can’t see whether he is armed or not. He goes to tell his brother Derek who is in bed with Stacy, his girlfriend. Derek takes a semi-automatic pistol and sees two blacks and one in the car ready for a getaway. Derek plunges out of the front door and shoots the first Afro-American several times and spots the other trying to run away. He takes aim and fires again mortally wounding the second.
The car driver speeds off with Derek firing several shots at the car, emptying the magazine. In slow motion he goes back to the wounded man to finish him off and there the flashback finishes. Back in the present, we are now in the office of the headmaster of Danny’s school, Dr Robert Sweeney and his tutor Mr Murray who are discussing an essay set by Mr Murray on civil rights. Danny has done his essay on ‘Mein Kampf’ – Hitler’s ideological book that he had written while in prison in the 1920s. Mr Murray is appalled and believes Danny is like his brother – lost and unable to turn back.
Dr Sweeney refuses to give up on Danny and dismisses Mr Murray’s attempt to have Danny excluded from school. Dr Sweeney calls Danny in and tells him that ‘Mein Kampf’ is ‘rubbish’ and throws it into the bin threatening to expel him. Sweeney decides that he himself will be Danny’s history teacher and the lessons called ‘American History X’. He sets Danny an essay to be handed in the next morning in which he should analyse and interpret all the events leading to Derek’s incarceration and Danny’s own views of life in contemporary America.
If he doesn’t submit the essay Danny will be thrown out of school. Danny decides to go home and think about the essay but while in the male toilets a white teenager is being attacked by a black gang led by ‘Little Henry’. Danny comes out of the cubicle and is threatened by Little Henry but Danny just responds by blowing smoke into the boy’s eyes coolly. The gang departs and Danny picks up the other man telling him ‘You gotta learn to stick up for yourself’. Meanwhile Dr Sweeney is going to a meeting at the LAPD about the rise of the skinhead gangs in the Venice Beach Area.
Sweeney is an outreach worker with some of the gangs in and out of prison. The committee are told that Derek used to be a protege of an older man called Cameron Alexander who the police believe is the instigator of the race attacks and skinhead gangs. He writes a lot of ‘White Power’ literature but the police having trouble pinning anything on Alexander. Derek was used by Alexander to recruit gangs in the area from insecure, frustrated and impressionable boys. They show an old news clipping from the local news network about the death of Danny’s father who was putting out a fire at a drug den.
When a young Derek is interviewed about the death he explodes into racist and right wing ideology that the reason his Father died was because he was in a ‘nigger area’ shot by a drugged up nigger ‘who still collects his welfare payments’. Derek believes that all problems such as AIDS, immigration, drugs are all race related. Dr Sweeney explains that Derek was quietly released today and they are keeping an eye on the situation because something could happen to Derek and it would get very ugly Danny is on his way home and thinking about the changes that have occurred in Venice Beach.
Their Dad had moved them to Venice Beach a long time ago because it was quiet and free of the troubles of the inner city. But now everything has changed – the gangs have spread out from the inner cities ‘like a plague’ taking over all the parks; whole areas are under their control. This is why Derek had started a local branch of the DOC (the Disciples of Christ) to win back areas for the whites and away from the black gangs. He remembers that Derek had challenged the blacks to a basketball match which Derek’s team win with Derek’s last minute score watched by Cameron and Stacy.
With some acrimonious arguments the blacks leave pushed of by one of Derek’s friends Seth Goodyear a huge skinhead who is part of the DOC. Danny looks over the same basketball park now and sees that the blacks are back on it with Little Henry the black gang member that confronted Danny earlier on. Derek didn’t allow his family to visit or write to him for the three years while he was in prison. Now he is released and Danny comes home to meet him after school. They lost their original home after Derek had lost his job and Doris Vineyard.
Their mother is also unwell, coughing and lying on the couch suffering probably from lung cancer. When Danny gets home, Derek notices the tattoo on Danny’s arm with the letters DOC underneath the logo. Danny tells Derek that it was Cameron that had persuaded Danny to have it done. Derek is not impressed but doesn’t say anything. Seth arrives with his video camera to welcome back Derek. Derek, meanwhile, is on the phone to Dr Sweeney who tells him about Danny’s assignment and Derek agrees to help Danny in his own way. Seth videotapes
Danny reciting right wing and skinhead ideology about hating that ‘it is cool to be black’ and the hip hop influence on the suburbs. Derek finishes his phone call and is listening to Danny’s views while shaking his head. Derek assembles the family in the room while Seth is left outside waiting to get something to eat. He tells them that he is planning to move them out of the area so they can make a new start. Derek also tells Danny that he is not to go to a party that had been organised by Alexander but Danny refuses to listen.
Later on that night, Danny begins his essay with the words ‘people look at me and they see my brother’. Derek had started up DOC by recruiting all the frustrated whites who were being whipped by the black and Mexican (Spics) gangs. In another flashback, Derek gives an impassioned speech about immigrants taking over. The gang carries out a horrific attack on the staff and customers of a grocery store which is owned by Koreans. Danny is still in his room and remembers how Derek’s views came as a surprise to everyone one mealtime.
Derek is present and with his girlfriend Stacey while Mr Murray is also there because he is seeing Derek’s Mum. They are looking at the riots that were happening over the USA and the beating up of Rodney King in 1991. Derek is at loggerheads with Mr Murray who he sees as a liberal. Davina, Derek’s sister, is also arguing with Derek but to no avail. Derek is an aggressive and good arguer but the discussion gets out of hand. Derek attacks Davina forcing food down her throat while Danny and his Mum try to get Derek off his sister.
Derek then turns on Mr Murray – who is Jewish – shouting at him that he will never come into this house because of his ‘Jewish nigger loving hippie’ views. As Murray leaves Derek show him his tattooed swastika above his left breast saying, ‘See this, it means not welcome’ cheered on by Stacy. Derek’s Mum responds by saying ‘I’m ashamed you came out of my body’ and then tries to get Mr Murray to come back saying, ‘He’s just a boy’, but Mr Murray responds ‘you don’t know what sort of a place your kids are growing up in’. He will not come back believing the boy is ‘gone’.
Meanwhile, in the house Davina approaches Derek with a baseball bat and tries to attack him but Derek who has now calmed down restrains her and speaks to Danny to see if he is alright. Derek apologises for losing control and reinforces that he would not hurt any of them and would do anything for them. Danny is looking through his Nazi treasures and at the clipping of his brother’s court case in sadness as he remembers that night. It was the same night that the two men had come to try and steal Derek’s jeep that their Father left them.
Danny imagines what would have happened if he had not gone to Derek’s room that night. Danny’s mind goes back to the shooting incident – Derek is coming back to finish off the wounded black. Derek stamps on the man’s head and breaks his neck in a horrific murder. Danny is racing to try and stop Derek from committing his second murder but is too late and sinks to the ground. The Police have arrived and arrest Derek who later gets three years in prison for manslaughter. It would have been life if Danny had testified.
Jason and Chris – two of Danny’s friends – come to collect Danny to go to the skinhead party and Derek comes along to see Alexander. Danny goes in with Cameron where they laugh over Danny’s essay on ‘Mein Kampf’. Alexander sees Sweeney as arrogant, manipulative and trying to make people feel guilty for their views. Derek tries to persuade Stacy to leave all of ‘this’ and come with them elsewhere but Stacey refuses and tells him everything is so well organised. Derek tells her he is a changed man and has left behind his right wing views and wants to move on. Stacy is appalled and is left speechless.
Derek then comes to see Alexander and sends Danny out. Alexander is trying to recruit Derek and tells him how organised they now are and that Derek started it all off. Alexander wants to move away from the skinhead image and into ‘something bigger’ but Derek is having none of it. He accuses Alexander of manipulating him and his brother. He threatens Alexander to stay away from his bother but Alexander says ‘he will come to me’. Alexander says to Derek that ‘I’m more important to him than you’ll ever be’ and with that Derek attacks Alexander, leaves him on the ground and walks out of the office.
Seth, who is suspicious of Derek’s newfound beliefs asks Derek where Cameron is and finds Alexander in the office. Stacy meanwhile sees Derek and accuses him of being a traitor and a ‘nigger lover’. The crowd begin to bay for blood but before they can do anything Seth is back and pointing a gun at Derek. The crowds part for the confrontation. Danny shouts to Seth to put the gun down and while Seth’s attention is distracted Derek’s wrestles away the gun, forces the crowd to stay back and makes his getaway. Danny catches up with Derek and is very angry asking him why he had beaten up Alexander and changed his views.
Derek tells Danny ‘it wasn’t meant to happen that way’ and Danny ‘can’t go back to that life’. They sit down and Derek tells Danny about his time in prison. Derek was working with a black gang member called Lamont who warns Derek ‘I’m the most dangerous person in this prison’ and not to try anything ‘because I control the underground’. They always work in silence and at one point Lamont warns Derek that ‘you’re the nigger in here’. Derek is still associating with the skinhead gangs but over a period of time realises that they don’t care much for his preaching or much for ideology either.
The skins leader who protects Derek from the ‘brothers’, is selling drugs bought from the ‘Spic’ gangs and ‘didn’t believe in anything’ much to Derek’s disgust. While inside he also refuses to speak to his Mum who has come to tell him that Danny is going the same way as him. Derek refuses to take any responsibility. Over a period of time he begins to talk to Lamont, playing basketball with other races and they get on very well talking about sport and women. As a result the skinhead gang turns on him, gang rape him and leave him unconsciousness in the showers.
While in hospital Dr Sweeney comes to visit him and asks Derek whether anything he has done has made his life better. Derek breaks down asking for help. Dr Sweeney says ‘Runnin’ just ain’t no good’ and Derek has to face up to his past and his own life. Despite the attack Derek still refuses to sit with his gang members which Lamont sees as suicidal because the brothers will now attack Derek. Derek asks ‘What can I do? ‘ All he can do is wait because he knows that they will come for him. Each day Derek hopes that the attack will be quick but it never comes.
Derek spends the time reading the books that Dr Sweeney has left him. When Derek leaves prison he approaches Lamont and asks whether Lamont used his influence to stop Derek from being attacked. Lamont doesn’t reply but his expression tells it all and Derek leaves with the black exchange of fists and ‘I owe you man’. Derek explains to Danny that he was wrong – his anger and hatred was just getting Derek even more lost and eating him up. They both walk home and go into Danny’s room and take down all the Nazi insignia, posters, images and flags and then Derek leaves Danny to finish the essay.
Danny realises that actually Derek’s views were formed much earlier than the death of their Father. He remembers one mealtime when Derek mentions to their dad that he is studying black literature under Dr Sweeney. Their Dad is less than impressed and begins to argue against ‘affirmative action’ or ‘blacktion’. He then says that Derek shouldn’t be reading ‘nigger’ rubbish and Derek sheepishly agrees. Derek is in the shower when a car mysteriously passes their house with Little Henry and his friends inside. It looks as if the gangs are cruising around ready to attack Derek for his murder of two blacks.
Danny sits in tears at his computer while he remembers these things and then, as it is 5:40am, he decides to watch the sunrise because he hasn’t seen it for a long time. In the morning Derek is dressed smartly to see his parole officer and takes Danny to school with his completed essay for Dr Sweeney. They stop off at the cafe to get some coffee and while there Derek is approached by Dr Sweeney and a police officer who tell him that Seth and Cameron Alexander have been attacked and are in hospital. Derek finally agrees to go to see his ‘ex-crew’ to see if he can find out exactly what has happened.
As they travel to school Derek is nervous that he is going to be attacked by the skinheads in retaliation for Derek’s beating of Alexander at the party. He leaves Danny at the entrance to school and goes on looking at the cars passing by, waiting for anything to happen to him. Danny goes into school with his girlfriend and is in the toilets when the door of a cubicle behind him opens and he turns to see Little Henry with a gun. He raises it and shoots Danny several times. Danny falls back in a pool of blood, his essay papers thrown into the air by the force.
Derek comes racing back and pushes his way through the crowd of people to find Danny dead in the toilets. He takes Danny in his arms and asks ‘ What did I do? ‘ Danny’s voice narrates the end sequence with the sunrise and calm seas against the sandy beaches. He tells us of his conclusion, of what he has learnt. His conclusion is that hate is baggage, life’s too short and that is just not worth it. Danny ends his essay with a quote by Abraham Lincoln where Lincoln states that ‘we are not enemies, we are friends’ and here the film ends. Background – American History X
This is Tony Kaye’s feature film directorial debut. Previously, he was involved in commercial advertising for companies such as VW, Dunlop, British rail and the 1996 Olympic games. Kaye – who has used his talent for charities such as Greenpeace and Drug-Free America – was attracted to the script of American History X because of its relevant social issues. Kaye had a struggle with the distributors of the film because he didn’t agree with the final cut worked on with Edward Norton. He threatened to take his name off the film but the Guild of Directors wouldn’t allow it. He has since disowned the film.
Due to the budding controversy the film was withdrawn from the Toronto Film Festival in autumn 1998. Edward Norton worked out for three months for the film while many of the cast and Kaye himself interviewed and hung out with ex-white supremacists. Norton was nominated for an academy award for his role as Derek Vineyard. American History X has had a big impact on society because of its social and political concerns. Amnesty International USA are screening the film across America in colleges and AIUSA functions and using it to educate others about racism and human rights. Questions . Why do you think the film is entitled American History X? 2. What are your perspectives on Dr Sweeney, Danny’s ‘history teacher’? 3. What does Dr Sweeney mean by ‘he learnt those things, now he can unlearn them’ when he is talking about Danny Vineyard? 4. In what ways does Cameron Alexander manipulate the rise of the fascist gangs? 5. Why do you think people are drawn to strong ideology like fascism? How does that compare to why people are drawn towards Christ? 6. What are your views on the character of Mr. Murray, the liberal teacher who believes the Vineyard boys are ‘lost’?
Why do you think he believes that Danny should be thrown out of school? 7. The film is full of Christian imagery such as crucifixes, the ‘Disciples of Christ’ and Derek’s arms outstretched ready for his arrest like Christ crucified. Why do you think Christian imagery plays a large part in fascism? How does it compare to our own perceptions of this imagery? 8. How does Dr Sweeney challenge Derek Vineyard’s identity, his beliefs and values? 9. Derek’s father expresses racist views that influence Derek when he is younger. What does this say about attitudes that are regarded as acceptable in certain households?
How does this compare to modern views of asylum seekers? 10. Derek has a profound change in prison and his old friends regard him as traitor. In what ways is this an expected response to a life-changing experience? 11. What do you think Derek Vineyard learns from his friend Lamont when they work in the laundry? 12. How does Nazism give a structure to the hate that Derek and his gang members are feeling? 13. What are your views on Danny’s conclusion that ‘hate is baggage’? How does this compare to Jesus’ teachings (e. g. Luke 6:27, 6:35)? 14.
One review states ‘Derek is consumed by pain, grief and anger’ due to his father’s death and ‘eventually leading him into the skinheads’. In what ways do you agree or disagree with this statement? 15. How should we respond to those who have such a violent and hateful ideology? 16. Do you think it is possible to love one another regardless of race, religion and ethnic background? 17. What conclusions can you draw about new life from the film? How does the ideas compare to the biblical ideas about re-birth and new life? 18. What do you think identity really is? In what does your identity lie? 9. Does the film make any mention of spirituality? What part would spirituality play in Derek’s transformation? American History X Cloze Passage Flashbacks throughout the film show Derek’s ______________ into a vengeful white supremacist in Venice Beach. Having already been influenced by his firefighter father’s hidden racism, Derek is driven to action when his father is shot and killed while fighting a fire in a suspected Compton drug den. Eventually Derek becomes second-in-command of a neo-Nazi street gang, The D. O. C. , and entices young _______ to join.
The gang commits acts of ______________, such as damaging a store owned by a _________ and challenging black players to basketball games to win the basketball court as turf. These incidents go unnoticed by the family until an argument with Murray, who is _________ and who Derek accuses of wanting his mother Doris. During the argument, Derek even goes as far as to ________ his sister Davina. Later that night while Derek is with his girlfriend Stacey, Danny informs Derek that three black men are attempting to steal Derek’s dad’s _________ and have even broken the window.
Derek runs outside and shoots at the two of the men with a pistol, killing the first one instantly who he shoots in the chest. The second man, one of the black basketball players, Derek shoots and ________ and a mad Derek vows to “teach him a lesson” for trying to steal the truck his father gave him and forces him to put his mouth on the curb, then _________ kills him with a curb-stomp. Danny watches in ___________as this unfolds. The police arrest Derek as he smiles ___________ at a shocked Danny. After being convicted of ____________ manslaughter, Derek is sentenced to three years at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
There he joins the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. After about a year, he becomes ____________ with the gang, especially over the group’s friendly dealings with a Mexican prison gang member. When he voices these opinions, he is ignored by the other white _______________. Derek decides to no longer associate with them when he befriends a black prison inmate, Lamont. His fellow neo-Nazis take notice before they ____________ beat and rape him in the shower as revenge for Derek’s leaving the gang. While still recovering from the attack, Derek is visited by Dr. Sweeney, whom he asks for help to be paroled.
Sweeney informs him of Danny’s __________ to become a neo-Nazi like Derek. Sweeney confides in Derek that he used to hate white people as a youth, and he realized that _________ is pointless. Sweeney asserts that Derek has spent his life pursuing answers, and then asks him: “Has anything you’ve done made your life better? ” This proves a turning point for Derek, who further distances himself from the Aryan Brotherhood and changes his outlook on life. Lamont emerges as Derek’s only true friend in prison, and is part of the reason Derek stays alive as he uses what influence he has to stop the black _______ from hurting Derek.
When Derek returns home he finds that ________ has become a white power skinhead and then tries and fails to convince him to leave the gang. Later that night at a Neo Nazi party which Derek and Danny are both attending despite the fact that ________ made Danny promise he wouldn’t go, Derek confronts and tells the leader, Cameron Alexander, that he will no longer associate with him and the gang and tells him to stay away from his brother, at which point ________ provokes and insults Derek who beats him up and knocks him unconscious before leaving his office.
During an ensuing confrontation, Derek’s ________ neo-nazi friend Seth Ryan runs after Derek and aims a pistol at him, which Derek wrestles from him, and points it at the angry crowd before running away from the party. Danny angrily confronts Derek who tells him about his experiences in prison of becoming aware of the effects of racism and being raped. The ____________ seems to prompt a change in Danny and they walk home with the suggestion that they will start to change their ways.
The following morning Danny finishes his paper, and Derek gets ready for a meeting with his _________ officer. Derek walks Danny to school before his meeting, and on their way they stop at a cafe where they are met by Dr. Sweeney and a police officer. They tell Derek that Cameron and Seth were attacked the previous night, and have been hospitalized. Derek claims no knowledge of the incidents yet they ask him for help, which Derek reluctantly agrees to do.
At school, after Danny uses the urinal in the bathroom, he is confronted by a _______ black student with whom he had a confrontation the previous day over him and his friends beating up a white student, who aims a handgun straight at Danny, the two look each other square in the eyes and then he shoots and kills Danny. When Derek arrives, he runs into the bathroom and __________ cradles his dead brother in his arms. The film ends with Danny narrating part of his paper, in which he quotes the conclusion of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. ” ————————————————- racismwhitesparolewoundsKoreanJewishattack truckbrutallyCameron supremacistshorror wickedly voluntary disillusioned Transformation savagely youngintimidationoverweight aspiration prisoners Danny Derek confession tearfully Answers Cloze Passage
Flashbacks throughout the film show Derek’s transformation into a vengeful white supremacist in Venice Beach. Having already been influenced by his firefighter father’s latent racism, Derek is driven to action when his father is shot and killed while fighting a fire in a suspected Compton drug den. Eventually Derek becomes second-in-command of a neo-Nazi street gang, The D. O. C. , and entices young whites to join. The gang commits acts of intimidation, such as damaging a store owned by a Korean and challenging black players to basketball games to win the basketball court as turf.
These incidents go unnoticed by the family until an argument with Murray (involving Rodney King whom Derek despises and who Murray has sympathy for), who is Jewish and who Derek accuses of wanting to “fuck” his mother Doris (Beverly D’Angelo) and threatens, Derek even goes as far as to attack his sister Davina (Jennifer Lien). Later that night while Derek is having sex with his girlfriend Stacey (Fairuza Balk), Danny informs Derek that three black men are attempting to steal Derek’s dad’s truck and have even broke the window.
Derek runs outside and shoots at the two of the men with a pistol, killing the first one instantly who he shoots in the chest. The second man, one of the black basketball players, Derek shoots and wounds and a mad Derek vows to “teach him a lesson” for trying to steal the truck his father gave him and forces him to put his mouth on the curb, then brutally kills him with a curb-stomp. Danny watches in horror as this unfolds. The police arrest Derek as he smiles wickedly at a shocked Danny. After being convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Derek is sentenced to three years at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
There he joins the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. After about a year, he becomes disillusioned with the gang, especially over the group’s friendly dealings with a Mexican prison gang member. When he voices these opinions, he is ignored by the other white supremacists. Derek decides to no longer associate with them when he befriends a black prison inmate, Lamont (Guy Torry). His fellow neo-Nazis take notice before they savagely beat and rape him in the shower in retaliation for Derek’s leaving the gang. While still recovering from the attack, Derek is visited by Dr. Sweeney, whom he asks for help to be paroled.
Sweeney informs him of Danny’s aspiration to become a neo-Nazi like Derek. Sweeney confides in Derek that he used to hate white people as a youth, and he realized that racism is pointless. Sweeney asserts that Derek has spent his life pursuing answers, and then asks him: “Has anything you’ve done made your life better? ” This proves a turning point for Derek, who further distances himself from the Aryan Brotherhood and changes his outlook on life. Lamont emerges as Derek’s only true friend in prison, and is part of the reason Derek stays alive as he uses what influence he has to stop the black prisoners from hurting Derek.
When Derek returns home he finds that Danny has become a white power skinhead and then tries and fails to convince him to leave the gang. Later that night at a Neo Nazi party which Derek and Danny are both attending despite the fact that Derek made Danny promise he wouldn’t go, Derek confronts and tells the leader, Cameron Alexander (Stacy Keach), that he will no longer associate with him and the gang and tells him to “Stay away from him and Danny” at which point Cameron provokes and insults Derek who beats him up and knocks him unconscious before leaving his office.
During an ensuing confrontation, Derek’s overweight neo-nazi friend Seth Ryan (Ethan Suplee) runs after Derek and aims a pistol at him, which Derek wrestles from him, and points it at the angry crowd before running away from the party. Danny angrily confronts Derek who tells him about his experiences in prison of becoming aware of the effects of racism and being raped. The confession seems to prompt a change in Danny and they walk home with the insinuation that they will start to change their ways.
The following morning Danny finishes his paper, and Derek gets ready for a meeting with his parole officer. Derek walks Danny to school before his meeting, and on their way they stop at a cafe where they are met by Dr. Sweeney and a police officer. They tell Derek that Cameron and Seth were attacked the previous night, and have been hospitalized. Derek claims no knowledge of the incidents yet they ask him for help, which Derek reluctantly agrees to do.
At school, after Danny uses the urinal in the bathroom, he is confronted by a young black student with whom he had a confrontation the previous day over him and his friends beating up a white student, who aims a handgun straight at Danny, the two look each other square in the eyes and then he shoots and kills Danny. When Derek arrives, he runs into the bathroom and tearfully cradles his dead brother in his arms. The film ends with Danny narrating part of his paper, in which he quotes the conclusion of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. ” Film Techniques in American History X Technique| Example| Effect| Flashback| Black and white flashbacks of how the main character, Derek, ended up in jail and his recruiting of angered white teens into a group of raged, racist skinheads. Eg. The basketball match, “curb-stomp”. This variation of black and white and colour shots to indicate the different times when various events are taking place is a very powerful and effective system as it makes the viewer more emotional and really emphasizes the message. The viewer is able to identify which scenes occurred in the past and which events are taking place at the point in time. | Allusion| Abraham Lincoln’s first opening speech as President of the United States. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies….. | During the heated argument at the dinner table, Derek makes reference to the fact that President Lincoln freed the slaves over 130 years ago. However, he has an illusion that African Americans choose to live their life the way they do, instead of making an effort. Danny concludes his essay with reference to the quote from Lincoln’s speech to indicate to the viewer/ audience his change in perspective. | Symbolism/ Motif| Christianinty/ Crucifixes * D. O. C Disciples of Christ * Crucifix on Danny’s arm * Derek’s stance as he is getting arrested symbolizes Jesus getting crucified”I hate anyone who isn’t white protestant!! | Following in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, the characters in American History X live their lives according to the rules of neo-Nazism, meaning Christianity plays a big part in their life. Derek Vinyard sees himself as “Christ”, as he passes on his teachings to his brother and other gang members feeding them hate. This is highlighted in the scene following his murder of the 2 teenagers stealing his truck and the way which he stretches out his arms, like as though he is getting crucified like Jesus Christ. Voice over| Danny narrates most of the film, giving the audience insight to his life, his family and their past. It is mainly Danny reading out his essay, which he has been asked to complete by his History teacher. | Danny’s voice over throughout the film makes the film appear to be more personal. We are presented the events all from Danny’s memory, as well as personally giving the viewer insight to his life. The viewer understands why and how certain actions took place and the effect it had on him individually. Dialogue| Derek getting into a heated discussion on race relations with his mother’s Jewish boyfriend, and the second features Derek using his intelligence and eloquence to organize a group of skinheads to one common purpose. | Throughout the film Derek uses verbal rhetoric to deliver his message to his followers. He refers to events from history (Rodney King, Abraham Lincoln) to justify his racist views. In the face of insecurity and fear, these are the very words that can stir up ordinary people to commit unspeakable acts of intolerance. |