How does The Blind Side relate to the concept of belonging?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Blind Side, a 2009 movie based on the book by Michael Lewis, is based on the real-life story of Michael Oher, an NFL offensive tackle who has played on the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, and Carolina Panthers. It is the story of how Michael, once a homeless teen, is taken in and cared for by a family called the Tuohys (Sandra Bullock plays his mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy). Once he develops a sense of belonging, he flourishes. 

As portrayed in the film, Michael, an African-American boy, is living with different foster care families in Memphis, Tennessee, when he is admitted to a Christian school, despite his poor grades, to play football. Michael later learns that his father has died. The white Tuohy family, whose children attend the school, see Michael walking down the road at night and invite him to stay at their house when they realize he has nowhere to stay.

Over time, Michael begins to live at their house and become like a member of the family. Leigh Anne seeks to become Michael's guardian and finds out that he has been in foster care since the age of 7, and that his mother has been addicted to drugs. She convinces Michael to improve his football game by telling him that his job is to protect the quarterback, as she realizes that he has strong protective instincts. By the end of the movie, Michael regards the Tuohys as his family, and he begins to feel a sense of belonging that inspires him work to improve his grades and his football game. The movie ends as Michael Oher decides to attend Ole Miss (after which he became a first-round draft pick, though this is not part of the movie).

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the film, Michael is alienated from any concept of belonging.  The fact that he runs away from each new setting through foster care in which he lives reflects this.  Michael struggles to find any notion of belonging in any setting.  In this, the theme presents itself early on in the film.  Once the Tuohys take Michael in, the theme of belonging is firmly embedded in the film.  Michael's belonging comes in the form of being with this family, and working with them in order to becomes academically and psychologically safe.  At the same time, he works towards the end of belonging somewhere with someone.  When Michael perceives that the family might be using him for football ends, belonging is once again seen when Michael goes back to his birth mother's home and seeks to establish some bonds of belonging, to anyone that will allow him to do so.  His reconciliation with the Tuohys is one where the belonging theme is evident, as Michael feels that he does belong.  Going to play college and pro football helps to enhance this theme again, for the idea of playing on a team and protecting "the blind side" helps to cement this theme throughout the film.