WHO RUNS THE WORLD?
It wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl.
The effects of a female influence are showcased through the resilient main characters of Maggie Mollison, mother of Charlie and Thomas, and Jackie Masters, Thomas’ girlfriend. Their choices and actions impact how the other characters surrounding them develop, and offer guidance, compassion and acceptance through the hardships that come with raising an autistic child.
Maggie Mollison presents herself as a strong-willed, no-nonsense woman who is very protective of her family and has no problem with asserting her independence. Despite being heavily pregnant and confined to bed rest, her determination to “…look after the house and boys” is adamant. As most domestic wives, especially in a household of males, Maggie is in charge of keeping everything in order and chaos at bay. Throughout her pregnancy, she barks commands and reminders often:
“Simon, you’re going to be late for work!”
“Time for Charlie’s medicine, Thomas.”
“…the underwear goes on the inside, Simon.”
“Make sure to take those bins out.”
“Sprinklers go on in half an hour!”
"Simon, have you mowed the lawn?!"
Lack of such dictation when she’s admitted to hospital results in domestic mayhem. It’s evident that without Maggie, the boys are at a loss as to what to do, how to behave – they fought, became physically violent and reckless - because there was nobody to keep them in line. In her absence, the female influence of Jackie Masters steps in to direct the Mollison boys' emotional development.
Jackie is bold, confident and liked by all - catching the eye of the nervous, reserved wallflower character of Thomas during his first few days at his new school. The beginnings of their relationship is due to Jackie's confidence - she initiates conversation, asks him questions about himself and his life; showing an interest in him where he might feel invisible. Jackie "saves" Thomas during a lifesaver exercise in their swimming class - the scene depicts Jackie pulling Thomas towards the safe area of the pool. This is symbolic: Jackie is literally saving him, parallel to her kindness and consideration 'saving' him from himself and 'pulling' him away from his negative outlook on Charlie's condition. Even after run-ins with Charlie that would normally have made people uncomfortable, Jackie exhibits maturity by not only maintaining her friendship with Thomas but expressing an interest in Charlie as well. This displays her acceptance; not many people would jump at the opportunity to associate with Charlie or make an effort to learn sign language to communicate with him. Jackie also empathises with Thomas:
"It must be so hard on your parents."
"Everyone says that."
"It must be hard on you."
This shows her consideration and understanding of his situation - something Thomas mustn't feel like he receives often because he's overlooked due to Charlie's condition demanding extra attention. A symbolic scene of them walking home together portrays the trio on a wide path going towards the horizon, with the camera angle looking upwards, upbeat music in the background and Jackie leading the way - suggesting Jackie is going to guide Thomas and Charlie towards better, brighter things. The video below includes the dark humour Jackie found in the scene of Charlie putting one of her tampons in his mouth. Many people would repulse or become uncomfortable but Jackie laughs it off, showing her optimism and mirth towards situations like these.