Explain what stage(s) of development in Erikson's psychosocial theory the characters of As We Are Now are in, and give examples to defend your opinion.

In As We Are Now, the old people in the nursing home should all be in Erikson's final stage of psychosocial development: Maturity. However, the abusive treatment of the administrator has caused some of them to regress to the second stage, that of Early Childhood. Caro, the protagonist, exhibits the conflicts found at both stages.

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Since As We Are Now is set in a nursing home, one might expect all the characters except the staff to be at Erikson's final stage of psychosocial development—that of Maturity, in which the central conflict is one of ego integrity against despair. Standish Flint, Caro's only close friend in...

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Since As We Are Now is set in a nursing home, one might expect all the characters except the staff to be at Erikson's final stage of psychosocial development—that of Maturity, in which the central conflict is one of ego integrity against despair. Standish Flint, Caro's only close friend in the nursing home, does seem to represent maturity in this way. His shrewdness and resilience indicate a decisive victory of ego integrity, despite the difficult environment of the home. His friendship for Caro, who is avoided by other residents, demonstrates his independent spirit.

Harriet Hatfield, the harsh, callous administrator of the nursing home, is at the previous stage of Middle Adulthood. Although the reader sees her at work, rather than in a domestic role, she behaves rather like an abusive parent towards the residents of the home. In her case, stagnation would be preferable to generativity, since she is a malignant influence, and Caro is only able to be happy when she is absent.

Caro herself ought to be at the same stage as her friend, Standish. It is arguable that she is, at least to some extent—though with despair winning out over ego integrity in her case. However, one might also say that the abusive environment in which she has to live has caused Caro to regress to the Early Childhood stage, in which she is stripped of her autonomy and assailed by shame and doubt. Her final act in preserving her journal for posterity, however, is an example of autonomy, showing that her spirit has not been crushed altogether.

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