Comparative - General Vision and Viewpoint - Sample Essay: Foster, Juno and All My Sons

Each text we read presents us with an outlook on life that may be bright or dark, or a combination of both brightness and darkness.

In light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. (2005)

I agree with this statement that each text a reader experiences presents its own uniquely positive or negative outlook on life. Throughout my comparative study, I have studied the texts: ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan, ‘Juno’ directed by Jason Reitman and ‘All My Sons’ (AMS) by Arthur Miller. 

I have learned that the author’s overall outlook on life or their general vision and viewpoint (GVV) is always a combination of brightness and darkness.

Beginning with the opening of the three texts – all three texts have hints of positivity in their opening scenes. However, in all three, negative outlooks on life overshadow the positivity. In Juno, the film begins on an upbeat note. The use of rotoscoping and a quirky soundtrack with lyrics such as ‘All I want is you – will you be my bride?’ presents the reader with a bright start. Nevertheless, the upbeat start comes to a stop when Juno finds out she is unexpectedly pregnant.

comparative general vision and viewpoint all my sons juno foster


On the contrary, both Foster and AMS focus on the negativity in life. In Foster, there is lack of information given to the reader. I had hope that the girl would find love in the Kinsellas, unlike the harsh family life she had with her own father, Dan. Although, abruptly clear imagery of ‘weeping willows’ lining the Kinsella’s drive cleared this sense of hope. This is mirrored in AMS where the GVV of the author is expressed before the play even begins. The hope that Chris will get married to Ann is completely overshadowed by the symbolism of a fallen tree – just like in Foster. This, in my opinion, adds to the texts outlook on life. I interpreted the tree to be a symbol for a foreshadowing of Joe’s lies. This use of symbolism truly added to the overall bleak outlook of life in both AMS and Foster. 

I believe that a crucial part in expressing a text’s outlook on life is its vision of society. Juno and AMS are set in America. However, each text has a juxtaposing outlook on American society. Juno holds an optimistic outlook on American life where family and friends are crucial in life. This is exemplified when Juno finds out she is pregnant. She immediately rings her friend Leah and tells her the news. In my opinion, the song lyrics such as ‘I’m sticking with you’ also emphasise this positive outlook. 

Contrastingly, AMS is set in Post-War America, where money is a primary concern, in a secluded town which primarily contrasts the setting of Juno. Furthermore, ‘Juno’ doesn’t concentrate on money whereas both AMS and Foster do. In AMS, Chris tells Ann he is ‘going to make her a fortune.’ This echoes the dark, Darwinian society where ‘survival of fittest’ is key. I felt that this really imposed a dark GVV on this text.

comparative essay general vision and viewpoint all my sons juno foster


Just like in Foster, we see a secluded, financially obsessed society. The narrating protagonist makes a fleeting reference to the 1980 Hunger Strikers. Yet still, the emphasis is on why her parents had to give her up to the Kinsellas. Was it her father’s gambling? I was unsure, but what I found most interesting was that even an eight year old girl’s vision of society was centred on money. I think that this, like the society in AMS and contrasting with the society in Juno, enforced a bleak outlook on life in this text. 

Possibly my favourite aspect of GVV in all three texts was their mutual vision of family life. Across all three texts, an evident contrast was seen in the way in which the outlook on family life is presented. 

Firstly, in Juno, the principal idea is that sometimes non-blood relatives are more caring than your ‘real’ family. This is also a central idea in Foster. In Juno, there is a juxtaposition of Bren, Juno’s stepmother and Juno’s own mother. I found it interesting that when Juno tells Bren she is pregnant, Bren’s immediate reaction is to get Juno some ‘pre-natal vitamins’, Juno’s mother has little contact with Juno – apart from a lone cactus received every Valentine’s day. This means that Bren is the principal maternal role in Juno’s life. 

Bren in ‘Juno’ truly reminded me of Mr Kinsella in ‘Foster’. Dan, the girl’s father is harsh and never nurtures the young girl. This negative GVV is overshadowed by Mr Kinsellla’s great love for the girl. The imagery of the footprints in the sand conveys that, not only does Mr Kinsella nurture the girl, but that she also helps him. She ‘carries him.’ I feel that refers to the girl helping Mr Kinsella through the loss of his child, which brightened my reception of this text’s GVV. 

In my opinion, the glaringly obvious contrast of family life in AMS heightens the GVV of the other two texts. In AMS, we are shown through Joe and Chris’ tense family life that blood-family are not always a source of happiness. In my view, this outlook is on par with the outlook of ‘Juno’ and ‘Foster.’ 

Across the comparative study, I have learned that you can never overestimatethe power of imagery in expressing key outlooks on life. An interesting point I discovered is that all three texts use imagery to highlight the text’s negative GVV.

all my sons juno foster comparative general vision and viewpoint

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In Juno, following Mark and Vanessa’s break-up, we see an upset Juno crying on the highway. This key moment uses a long and wide shot to show a boat out of water and a long, straight road. I believe that the boat out of water alludes to Juno feeling lost whereas the long, straight road is where she should be. This image ultimately coincides with the symbol of the ‘lone heifer’ in ‘Foster’. This is symbolic in emphasising the girl’s caution in the Kinsella’s house.

A heifer is always with a group so, a ‘lone’ heifer is quite expressive and in my opinion, quite depressing. This use of darks symbols is used in AMS. AMS uses the symbol of a metaphorical jail. I feel this added to the negative GVV of this text. I think that the ‘jail’ is used to symbolise the Keller’s household, where Joe and Kate are ‘locked up’ in their own secrets.

It goes without saying that the conclusion of a text is crucial in presenting the reader with an outlook on life. Once again, parts of positivity are evident in all three texts. However, ‘Juno’ is the only text with a completely bright ending. 

‘Juno’ is book ended and shows a happy Juno return to her positive self. It is now summer. I think this new season emphasises the positivity of the ending, along with the song that Juno and Paulie sing in unison – ‘Anyone Else but You’.

Quite the opposite is seen in AMS and Foster. Both texts have a lot in common. In AMS, we see the curtain fall on a crying Joe, following his father’s suicide. The crying of the girl in ‘Foster’ mirrors this scene. The girl in ‘Foster’ cries for Mr Kinsella and calls him ‘Daddy’. I hoped that both Chris in AMS and the girl in ‘Foster’ would get the happiness of Juno. However, this was not true.

Even with Kate telling Chris to go ‘live his life’ in AMS or the positive growth of the girl in ‘Foster’ – the negative, ambiguous endings or these texts were overshadowed with a negative outlook on life. 

In conclusion, I feel that across all 3 texts I have studied as part of my comparative course presented me, the reader, with varying outlooks on life. In ‘Foster’, I was left saddened by the dark ending but somewhat positive for the girl’s future. In ‘Juno’, I was presented with an optimistic and hopeful outlook on life. However, AMS provided me with a tainted outlook on life. These combinations of bright and dark outlooks on life really added to the impact of these text’s shaping my own outlook on life.

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