Children brought up in drug-prone environments face many challenges as they grow up. They are prone to sexual abuse, drug use, and crimes to sustain their lives or conform to the norm of the society.
In such environments, bullying is prevalent, and a child who has been subjected to bullying ends up having a negative attitude towards people who may want to come close to him or her. This report aims at analyzing the life of the protagonist (Chiron) and the antagonist (Paula), who is Chiron’s biological mother as presented in the script of the play “Moonlight” written by Barry Jenkins. It also puts into consideration other characters in the play and how they interact with Chiron and Paula and the impact on their lives. Besides, it highlights the challenges that children whose parents are drug abusers go through in life.
This screenplay of Moonlight presents Chiron who is an African American. The play was cast in Miami, a town of African Americans, where drug use was the order of the day. Many people are drug dependent. A drug lord, Juan, supplies them with the drugs. Juan is presented as a wealthy and respected person in Miami. His luxury cars and booming businesses earn him all that respect (Jenkins 6).
In the same town, there is a young boy named Chiron, who was raised by her single mother, Paula, who is a nurse in Miami. Chiron considers himself to be an outcast in the society due to the suffering he undergoes in the hands of his age mates. At some point, he even tries to run away from his age mates to hide in an abandoned building where Juan rescues him. Due to this bullying, Chiron struggles to fit in the society to a point where he is unable to socialize with people close to him like Juan and his wife, Teresa.
Despite Teresa being hospitable to him, Chiron does not seem to acknowledge the hospitality. Instead, he focuses on the food he is offered, which implies that he is keeping himself busy to avoid answering any question coming from both Juan and his wife (Jenkins 6). The negative attitude towards the people around him arises from the previous life encounters of being bullied and being raised in an antisocial environment. In addition, he tries to hide his sexual orientation that he is gay. He feels that he does not fit into the society and he has no impact in it, making him live a life of loneliness because he believes that he has no one to turn to. After Juan watched the children chase Chiron into an abandoned building, he becomes convinced to help him. In the second act break, Chiron is seen determined to face his challenges hedon. He takes on Terrell and beats him up with the chair. Later, he is escorted out in cuffs due to the fight and injuries he had caused to Terell. Indeed, Chiron seems to have made a new resolution to overcome his weaknesses.
Chiron does not seem to trust anyone he meets in his life. Even after being taken by Juan and given a warm welcome, he does not open up to Teresa and her husband (Jenkins 7). Even maintaining eye contact was an issue to Chiron because he was ashamed of his sexual orientation and had also suffered in the hands of bullies. Juan, on his side, sees Chiron as a young boy with much potential who needs guidance and love in this wrecked town of Miami. Despite him being a drug dealer, he can be a genuine father figure to Chiron, which turns out to be true. Later in the play, Juan wins Chiron’s heart, and he becomes willing to guide him through his life. To achieve his goals, Chiron decides to face his fears and weaknesses and face life as it is. He acknowledges those people who accept his sexuality and personality- Juan and Kevin. Chiron decides not to let her Paula hinder her from reaching his goals while at the same time he strives to maintain peace with her mother.
Chiron seems to hate socializing in school, which is noticed by his friend Kevin. Kevin dares Chiron to fight him to prove to his age mates that he is not weak, a challenge which he takes (Jenkins 17). All these while, Kevin tries to be social with Chiron and stands by him as a friend. At home, despite Chiron having a mother, Juan takes him up and takes care of him as if he were his son. At some point, Chiron and his girlfriend were so late that Chiron could not reach home, but since Juan is a father figure to Chiron, he offers Chiron and his girlfriend a place to sleep. All these acts by Juan are meant to prove to Chiron that he is willing to help him to overcome his weakness and be great. Despite Juan being a genuine father figure to Chiron, Paula does not trust Juan with her son. When she sees Juan with her son, she pulls her son away from him since she thinks Juan is a bad influence on her son.
At one point, Juan takes Chiron to Miami Beach and this time he decides to teach Chiron how to swim. At the back of his mind, Juan’s primary aim is not for Chiron to learn how to swim, but for him to learn how to face challenges head-on and boldly (Jenkins 18). At the end of the swimming, Juan tells him that, at some point, he will have to decide his future for himself. The statement lingers in Chiron’s mind, and it helps him change his perspective on life.
During the early stages of life, Chiron struggles with loneliness and depression due to his sexual orientation since even in class his colleagues bully him and compare him to girls when they say he has “women problem” (Jenkins 34). These utterances affect the self-esteem of Chiron adversely. He even shies away from socializing with his peers since he cannot escape the ridicule. Fortunately, he manages to socialize with one of his friend, Kevin, who offers to give him a shoulder to lean on and overcome the challenges. Their relationship goes on even to their youth stages. Chiron also finds a girlfriend who acts as a source of comfort. Even though Chiron knows that Juan sells drugs to her mother, he values Juan more than her mother; at some point, he says he hates his biological mom (Jenkins 32).
Chiron comes to know that his mother takes drugs and he has also known that Juan is a drug dealer (Jenkins 32). Paula, who is a single mother to Chiron, struggles to be a mother to her son while at the same time struggling with drug abuse. She does not want her son to involve himself with drugs. In this script, the aspect of foreshadowing is seen when Paula prevents Chiron from watching television because he did not come home the previous night showing that the antagonist is caring for her son and she does not want her to be exposed to nightlife in a drug-prone environment (Jenkins 11). Later, due to drug addiction, she sells the TV to buy drugs to sustain her urge for them. While Chiron’s biological mother is deeply rooted in crack, his surrogate parents, Juan and Teresa are teaching him (Chiron) how to swim, to make his bed, to sit upright and to live a life of essence.
Chiron, at some point, asks Juan if he is a faggot. In response, Juan tells Chiron that he understands that he is gay and since a faggot is an abusive word to gays, he (Chiron) should not let anyone call him that due to his sexual orientation (Jenkins 31). In this conversation, Juan proves that he cares and accepts Chiron’s sexual orientation. In another instance, Chiron asks Juan, “Do you sell drugs?” Juan, with a crushed face, replies in the affirmative (Jenkins 32). Such acts indicate that Juan is not happy about his character and he is not proud of his business since it does not present him as a good role model but rather as a surrogate parent to Chiron.
This whole script shows how Chiron goes through a tough life in the hands of her mom, friends, age mates and how the environment affects his character. After Juan rescues Chiron from those children who bullied him, Chiron accepts Juan and his wife as his surrogate parents, and in due course, Juan mentors him as a responsible surrogate father despite him being a drug lord. The scriptwriter reveals how children and families are deeply affected by such environments and how they struggle to cope with such a life.