Brief Character Overview
Regan Abbott is the main character of the 2018 horror movie A Quiet Place, portrayed by Millicent Simmonds. Her age is not specified anywhere in the film, so we can only say that she is a teenager. After the world is taken by creatures with extreme hearing abilities, she survives in a remote house with her parents and two little brothers. Regan is deaf, so her family communicates with her through American Sign Language, which probably was one of the crucial things that helped them survive. The movie begins with Regan giving her little brother Beau a toy rocket. Without her knowing, Beau takes batteries and turns on the toy, which results in his death. Overcoming this event becomes one of the main challenges for Regan.
Developmental Issues and Outcomes
Regan does not undergo a lot of physical development in the story. The only noticeable change in her appearance is that the time gap between two scenes in the beginning, day 89 of the apocalypse and day 472, is marked by Regan cutting her hair.
From the beginning until the end of the story, Regan has a close relationship with the rest of her family, which is completely justified given the circumstances. However, she believes that everyone blames her for her brother’s death because of her trauma. When the father doesn’t take her fishing, her brother Marcus also suggests that it is because he blames his daughter for that event. Regan’s trauma will be discussed more thoroughly later, but overcoming this change is what strengthens her bond with the family.
The important aspect of Regan’s cognitive development is expressing her own opinion and learning to stand her ground. It is most evident in the scene where Regan fights with her father. In this scene, viewers witness her losing her hope to regain any hearing abilities, but she also makes her own decision and expresses her opinion instead of just doing what she is told.
As for Regan’s emotional development, the viewers can notice that her behavior is normal for a teenager at the beginning of the story: she acts up and experiences emotions at their highest and lowest. For example, she runs off when upset or gets so excited during a game that she overthrows a lamp. However, she is much calmer and more confident by the end of the movie. Even faced with a creature, Regan does not lose her nerve and saves the family.
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System
Children are typically exposed to many connections and factors during their growing growth and are affected by them. In his work, Bronfenbrenner defines five systems that a child interacts with (Guy-Evans, 2020). However, the most important one is the microsystem, composed of family, friends, school, religious organizations, etc. (Guy-Evans, 2020). The second system, or the mesosystem, is the one that links all the players of the microsystem together (Guy-Evans, 2020). But the catastrophe in the movie prevented Regan from communicating with anyone outside her family. Also, it cut the links between those actors that affect her. Therefore, it probably made growing up more difficult for her.
Knowing that Regan is in her teenage years, we can conclude that she is in the fifth stage of development according to Erikson’s system (Erikson, 1950). This stage is marked by confusion about identity and social role. Erikson (1950) notes that at this age, children start looking for their identity based on their interactions with peers and the world outside their home and family and start acknowledging their sexuality. However, this process is made more complicated for Regan, if not unavailable, since she does not have any friends because of the apocalypse. Her communications are limited to the nuclear family circle, which makes the self-identification process a lot more complicated.
Deaf Teenager Identity
Following up on the topic of teenager identity building, it will be helpful to discuss Deaf identity among teenagers. Unfortunately, the movie does not tell what Regan’s life like before the apocalypse was, but her cochlear implant suggests that she did not lose her hearing completely. In one scene, she fights with her father because she loses hope of ever hearing again. However, it may be safe to say that Regan’s parents did a good job helping their daughter live a good life, even with her lack of hearing. Byatt et al. (2021) mention that family plays a crucial role in forming a deaf teenager’s identity, and at times children may feel excluded because of a lack of communication with family. However, speaking ASL is what helped Abbotts survive in the first place. We can conclude that Regan most likely has a strong Deaf Identity.
Overcoming Trauma and Self-blame
Perhaps one of the most important challenges Regan has to face in the story is her self-blame over the death of her brother Beau. This is made clear by the dialogue between the father of the family Lee and Regan’s brother Marcus. When Marcus asks his father whether he blames Regan for Beau’s death, he answers negatively, but Marcus points out that he blames herself. The viewers find out that Regan’s mother also blames herself; therefore, she does not hold her daughter responsible for what happened. Later in the movie, Lee tells Regan he loves her before he dies saving his children, and she finds out that the father studied human anatomy and was constantly trying to repair her broken cochlear implant. By accepting love and forgiveness from her family, Regan forgives herself.
To conclude, Regan Abbott is a character who lives and develops in very unusual circumstances. Despite all the bad that happens to her, she remains brave and caring. Regan begins the story as a person who blames herself for her brother’s death and does not think that her family loves her. However, throughout the events, she overcomes all this and comes to the understanding of the fact that she is loved and not blamed for anything. By accepting her father’s love and wearing the implant that he tried to fix, Regan saves herself and the rest of the family without realizing it initially. Even though the character lacks a lot of important factors for proper development, such as school, friends, and others, and despite her deafness, she seems to be growing up as a normal person.
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