One of the most dominant themes out of Burstein's work is how American conceptions of adolescence feature the challenge of balancing the voice of the subjective with that of the larger community. The collision between individual voice and exterior forces end up becoming a major theme out of the film. Different characters struggle with this reality. Hannah recognizes this, as the social pressures exerted on her in Warsaw compel her to go out West to San Francisco in the hopes of ensuring her own voice is not crushed and silenced by that of the external reality. For Megan, her own voice is silenced as getting into Notre Dame is the only voice she can hear. Colin's voice of personal subjectivity is nearly drowned out by his father's demand of entering the military. In these examples, it becomes evident that the theme of internal voice and objective expectations becomes a critical and defining force in American notions of adolescence. This theme is extremely vital to understanding the development of both the film and the characterizations in it.