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.
nwanda keating says
this entire paragraph misses the point. The boy/man is fighting to not be assimilated into the boring world of the fifties, nothing more
Me thinks the author doth go on much too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mr Puff Puff says
This information has been very helpful to my English homework. Thank you to whoever wrote this… 😀
thank you so muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
u literally saved me
I inferred that Charlie knows full well there are consequences to his actions. Mr. Nolan said, “If you think you’re the first Welton student to try to get kicked out, think again.” That told me that Charlie actively made trouble in the hopes of getting kicked out. Neil references that Charlie’s from a “rich” family – maybe this was this his way of trying to get attention from Mom and Dad.
I thought there were times when Charlie was kind of sweet, like in his actions towards Todd after Neil’s death, and in trying to cheer Knox up.
I completely disagree with your interpretation of Charlie. To me, he was a free thinker already. He was the most advanced in the group and in fact the one which needed the less help from Keating. He already had his wisdom.
He didn’t strive for attention in any unhealthy way. In fact I believe it was perfectly natural and he was simply being who he is. Getting attention came second to being what he felt he was and affirming himself as such among his peers. That is precisely why he, in fact, did get the attention (and respect) – because he was himself before needing the attention. The attention came second and had he to choose between losing himself or the attention he would have easlity sacrificed the second.
A good analysis, the only thing I feel I could possibly contribute is that when Cameron betrayed them all, SOMEone needed to hit him. And Charlie definitely seemed the one most likely to follow through. Throughout the movie, he’d always thrown himself into things with a sort of blind passion. When Keating introduced him to “carpe diem” and non-conformist thinking, Charlie dove in headfirst. Someone had to hit Cameron, someone had to be willing to get expelled for following through with their beliefs. If it was going to be anyone, it was going to be the man who re-named himself “Nwanda”.
My only regret is that he didn’t hit Judas again. He’s already going to be expelled for hitting him, what are they going to do to him if he hits him again? Banish him?
Charlie gets expelled because he wouldn’t sign the contract that makes out that Robin Williams’s is to be blamed for his student’s suicide. He is the only student to do so, and acts completely out of a moral and ethical obligation.
Ironic that this is on a website called Anti-Romantic. The critique of Dalton should be prefaced by a statement of the author’s belief in GOD and the repressive nature of religion. I think Dalton is much like Keating himself in that he is already discovering his unique voice and could someday be a mentor like Keating. Defying GOD or being GODlike is a normal human state of being. Unfortunately believing in GOD means to fear and obey GOD. This day and age, people need to get over it.
The Congo says
i believe that the anonymous author of this assessment completely missed the point of Charlie’s/Nuwanda’s character. The character in many ways exhibits an extreme notion of the non-conformist free-thinking that Keating preaches, the book on which this film is based on was in fact written by an alumnus of a similar school who clearly expressed a distaste for the repressive nature of strict preparatory schools, a value that Peter Weir interprets in Charlie/Nuwanda.
Charlie/Nuwanda demonstrates a desire to rebel against the strict impositions placed on his development by the deprivation he experiences at Welton, a theme that is not difficult to understand in the context of his developmental adolescence and his wealthy, upper-class background.
No offence to the author but i would suggest a re-write of this character assessment.
this is nothing like nuwanda
nuwanda is not a ninny who thrives on attention
i think you don’t really understand what youre talking about
Adelaide Eldridge says
I do believe that this misses the point of Nwanda.
It is true that Nwanda craves attention, but his romantic sensitivities allows him to quickly grasp an understanding of living a poetic life. The courtyard scene of the young men walking around proves this. While all the young men seem to be making a “mockery” or foolishly walking around, Nawanda got the point and Keating acknowledged it! Nwanda, with his pure and unpolished heart, allows himself to BE on the path to finding who he is and not what someone tells him it should be, to experiencing life to the fullest, something that few men in our society are able to do. Society tears men’s humanity down in order to build the warrior that they think men should be.
Nwanda punching Cameron was a pure desire to defend the only path that allows for the experiences that could lie ahead.
Adelaide Eldridge says
One more thing …
To a lesser extent, Nwanda martyred himself. He made choices that he knew could be his downfall. He knowingly made the final choice that sealed his fate.
Nwanda was brother to Keating. There was a scene when bigger brother shares words of wisdom with younger brother.