Charles Dalton’s (Gale Hansen) character thrives on attention. He takes on an “above the law,” and in a sense, has a “God-complex,” meaning he feels that he should always be in control of the situation and that he will not have to face the consequences of any of his actions. Unfortunately, he has to learn the hard way that his actions to spark consequences.
Nwanda always looks to see if people are watching him, and he always says “witty” comments such as when Keating asks why he stands upon the desk, Nwanda replies, “To feel taller.” Also, when Keating asks why Robert Herrick wrote the lines he did, Nwanda replies, “Because he’s in a hurry.”
During the first meeting, he holds up a picture of a naked girl and recites
“Teach me to Love? go teach thy self more wit;
I am chief Professor of it.
The God of Love, if such a thing there be,
May learn to love from me, ”
Here he is referring to himself as being better than the “God of Love,” which would give him a god-like status.
In the cave he plays his sax, and recites
“Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling,
Gotta do more, gotta be more.
Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,
Gotta be more, gotta do more.”
He refers to the sax as “sonorous,” which is defined by Webster to be:
- producing sound (as when struck)
- full or loud in sound
- imposing or impressive in effect or style
- having a high or an indicated degree of sonority
He uses this word for attention, and it can also describe his behavior.
Nwanda is always trying to tell people what to do – he does this with Meeks on several occasions. He also tries to be the voice of reason for Knox. In the cave, he tells Knox to calm down, and after Knox makes the phone call to Chris and is invited to the party, Nwanda is the one to remind him the party is at Chet’s and says, “You don’t actually think you’re going with her, do you?”
Other signs of wanting attention are that he changes his name from Charlie to Nwanda, he “exercises his right not to walk,” in extra scene he shoves meatball in his mouth with his left hand after he is told not to, and he paints the Indian symbol of virility on his chest.
Nwanda also feels that he can speak for other people, even without their consent. First, he invites girls to come to the meeting. Then he tells them they can go in because it’s his cave. He recites to them two poems – one by Byron and the other by Shakespeare – and claims them as his own. He also publishes an article in the school paper about how they should have girls at Welton in the name of the DPS without the consent of any other members.
Nwanda also pulls the “phone call from God” stunt in order to gain attention, referring to himself as a god when he says that the phone call is from God. Also, the principle of romanticism that he recites with incredible passion is “To indeed be a god!”
In the end, Nwanda is expelled for punching Cameron in another “moment of passion.” Cameron had just come from telling the administrators about the DPS and blamed Keating for their and Neil’s actions. Nwanda punches him because he feels it doesn’t matter if he’s expelled or not. He claims it was already a certainty before he punched Cameron, but there was always the possibility of another punishment.
These are all examples of how Nwanda used “Carpe diem” to indulge himself in romanticism without thinking of any consequences before acting. He is always a romantic in this movie and seems to do everything in order to draw attention to himself.