Knowledge is key as well as communication. Without communication, one cannot truly know an individual. Poor or a lack of communication tends to lead to a misconception of the individual. Unfortunately, this misconception occurs greatly concerning individuals with disabilities. Those with disabilities are assumed to be clueless of the world around them and are in need of guidance. Though the focus of the film, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Cole’s deafness reveals the impact a disability can have on a family as well as the characteristics of the disability and the individual himself.
Mr. Holland’s Opus is of musician and composer Glenn Holland who becomes the music teacher of John F. Kennedy High School in hopes to have more time to spend with his wife, Iris, and to compose. However, having no teaching experience prior to, Mr. Holland despises his job due to the students’ apathy to music as well as being a marginalized figure in the school’s hierarchy. With the help from the school’s ...view middle of the document...
At the end of the film, the fine arts program is cut due to financial difficulties and Mr. Holland loses his job but the students, as well as alumnus, throw him a farewell as a thank you for the impact he had as a teacher. The film ends with Mr. Holland finally conducting his composition.
Characteristics of deafness is prevalent throughout the course of the film. During the parade, Cole, still an infant is unfazed by the extremely loud siren of the fire truck. A few years later, Cole points to a cabinet in the kitchen. However, he is unable to communicate what he wanted, frustrating both him and his parents. Later, when his parents check out a school for the deaf, the sign language teacher, also deaf, is seen speaking in a slight difficult to understand due to her articulation, voice quality, and tone. Sign language is Cole’s prime means of communication is sign language, which is seen throughout the film by various people, including the main character himself. Mr. Holland, hoping to reach out to his deaf son, uses lights in one of his concerts as means to communicate music to deaf audience members. He also uses sign language as he sang a song to his son.
I believe Cole’s deafness is an accurate display of the disability. Upon discovering Cole’s hard of hearing, Mr. Holland and his wife take Cole for testing for confirmation. The doctor tells that their son has a hearing loss of 90 decibels, which states in Exceptional Lives that a person to be considered to be deaf must have a hearing loss of 70 to 90 decibels or higher. Though not said directly, it is highly suggested that Cole has congenital deafness, meaning that hearing loss was present at birth, as he showed no response to any sounds as an infant.
Despite being unable to hear, Cole is shown to be a completely normal child, growing up to lead a normal life. Mr. Holland’s fear to confront his son’s disability, as he is unable to teach his son music, strains the father and son’s relationship. Upset about the fact that his father prefers to teach his students of his own son, Cole states that he too loves music, despite being deaf, and his father should not assume that his son cannot understand. There is more to a person than his disability and to make assumptions because of such in attempts to protect the disable person would only hurt him.