In perspective, every action has an equally strong reaction. An individual assists another individual, who then aids and influences another person, thus creating a chain reaction. Without doubt, everyone would like to see the butterfly effect play out in society; however, not many individuals are up for the challenge. Not a lot of people think this way, however a simple act could change the world. No matter how small or large the event is, the aftermath of it can be felt all around the world. This idea is presented in the movie, Pay It Forward.
In the movie Pay It Forward, a seventh grade social studies teacher assigns a lifealtering project that results in a drug addicts second chance on life, the reunion of a family, and a small social studies project becoming a nation-wide movement. Initially, the first event is the main cause of the chain reaction; without the first event, the actions taking place afterwards, would never happen. In Pay It Forward, a social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet assigns an extra credit opportunity which requires students to “Think of an idea to change the world- and put it into action” (Pay It Forward).
Trevor McKinney, is a seventh grader, who hopes to help three different people, who in return help three other people. Trevor’s goal of helping three people is the first cause. Trevor’s first butterfly effect happens when he assists a homeless drug addicts named Jerry. Jerry is a heroin addict that gets a another shot at life from thirteen-year old. Trevor invites Jerry into his home and feeds him. Slowly, Jerry begins to get his life back in control. At first, he was not welcomed by Trevor’s mother, Arlene, who found Jerry in her garage working on her old car.
Jerry explains how Trevor came to him and helped him and only expected Jerry to help someone else back. In return Jerry saves a woman from jumping off of a bridge. Trevor’s action of helping Jerry out, by letting him spend the night at his house influenced Jerry, in that he decided to save another person’s life. Thus slowly creating the butterfly effect. Accordingly, the butterfly effect continues as Jerry pays it forward. Trevor’s goal relies solely on the idea of helping three individuals, who must then each help three others, in the end assisting nearly thirty people by doing something the individual can’t do themselves.
The butterfly theory plays a huge role in Trevor’s assignment in that not only did Jerry fix Arlene’s car, he also saved a woman from killing herself. Jerry was walking alongside a bridge when he saw a woman climbing it looking seriously distressed. Jerry confesses to the woman that he was on his way to buy heroin, until he encountered her and how she saved him. Jerry convinces the woman to get off the bridge and grab a cup of coffee with him- to save his life.
By doing this Jerry creates another wave of events. If not for Mr. Simonet’s lifealtering assignment, Trevor would have never get the idea for a project that caused a man to get off of drugs and saving a woman’s life. The butterfly effect continues as Trevor continues trying to help others. Trevor helped Jerry who then created his own chain reaction. Trevor’s mother, who is a recovering alcoholic, is also on his list of people to help. Arlene is terrorized by Trevor’s father substance abuse and physical abuse towards her. As a result, Arlene has trust issues and commitment issues with any person she dates.
Trevor, on many occasions has thrown out the bottles of alcohol his mother has hidden around the house. Seeing his mother struggle throughout the years he decides to help her. After an unsuccessful marriage with her exhusband Ricky, Trevor sets up his mom on a date with his social studies teacher Mr. Simonet. Trevor believe Mr. Simonet would be a great boyfriend for his mom and he thought that Mr. Simonet would make her happy and worry free. If Mr. Simonet never assigned the project, Arlene would’ve never started going out with him. She also would have never done her act of kindness.
One individual Arlene continues to assist is her mother Grace. Grace, also suffers from alcohol addiction. The two haven’t spoke to each other for three years until Arlene decided to continue the butterfly effect and pay it forward to her mom. Arlene seeks out her mother, Grace, who lives in her car, to forgive her for “almost taking (her) to the streets” (Pay It Forward). Arlene allows Grace to start seeing Trevor, under the condition that she must be sober even if it’s only for two hours. The only requirement for this is that Grace helps three other people, thus continuing the butterfly effect.
This allowed Grace to reconnect with her grandson who she hasn’t seen in many years. Have Mr. Simonet not assign his project, Trevor would have never helped his mother, who wouldn’t have helped her mother, Grace. This would of resulted in a broken relationship within the family. Nearing the end of this chain of events, the last event is always the most impactful one. To put into perspective, the last event caused an entire movement: the Pay It Forward movement. As the McKinney family celebrates Trevor’s birthday, that Grace also attended.
Chris, a reporter, interrupts the party to tell Arlene and Trevor of how big of an impact his project made on society. Chris informas Arlene that Trevor’s action have spread across the nation, mentioning cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. Chris wants to hold an interview in which he questions his motives for starting the Pay It Forward movement. Had Mr. Simonet not come up with the idea of giving an extra credit assignment, Trevor wouldn’t have made such an impact in so many cities, spreading kindness and help across the nation.
Consequently, Trevor continued to help his peers. After the interview, Trevor witnesses a classmate, Adam, being bullied and comes to his defense when he gets attacked. Although, Adam is not one of the individuals on Trevor’s list, Trevor still decides to help his friend because he didn’t help Adam the first time he saw the bullies attack him . Trevor attempts to fight off the bullies even though they are older and stronger than both Adam and Trevor . While, helping Adam, one of the bullies pulls out a knife in the heat of the moment and stabs Trevor in the abdomen.
This resulted in Trevor later on dying from the injuries he sustained. If Mr. Simonet hadn’t have assigned the project, Trevor would of never run to Adams defence and he still would of been alive to see his Pay It Forward movement become a success. With the strike of just one little action, the entire world can change. One by one, each small event ends up adding up to one colossal event. Similarly, in the movie Pay It Forward one single action led up to multiple massive effects. The kindness and helpfulness created by the Pay It Forward movement spread from one person to thousands of others.
In Pay It Forward, a seventh grade social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet, assigns a project for his class that requires them to think of an idea that can change the world they live in. Trevor’s idea was to help three individuals who then must help three other individuals and so on. Thus creating a butterfly effect. Trevor helped a homeless man get another shot at life, who then helped stop a woman from killing herself. Trevor also helped his mother, Arlene, to stop her battle with alcohol addiction and raising her self-acceptance and selfconfidence, after her divorce with her abusive husband Ricky.
Arlene went on to forgive her mother, which then allowed Grace to reunite with her family and be happy again. Finally, Mr. Simonet’s life changing event pushed Trevor to want to help to change the world he lived in. Trevor thus came up with the idea of Pay It Forward. Trevor’s good deeds left an impact on thousands of people even though he didn’t know about it. This represents the fact that even the smallest act of kindness, can have a huge impact on a person’s life.