Space in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House

I had never before seen Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, but after watching it in class I was struck by how much it related to my own upbringing, specifically in the context of space.  In the movie, it is comically shown that the 4 person family does not have enough space in their Manhattan apartment.  Scenes such as Mr. Blandings and his wife fighting over who gets to use the bathroom mirror demonstrate that personal space is definitely an issue for this family, and is ultimately what leads to their moving out of New York City.  Growing up in New York City myself, I can relate to these issues of personal space, and although they are certainly comical in the film does not mean that they are at all an exaggeration.  Sharing a one bedroom apartment with my sister and two parents, personal space always was, and still is a point of contention in our household.  Similarly to the Blandings, most of my extended family has moved out New York City and into the suburbs, simply so that they can have space that is their own.  While these minor battles over space may seem trivial when watching the film, I felt some sort of understanding for the Blandings in wanting to have their own space.  Although it seemed a bit over the top when Ms. Blandings insisted that both of their daughters have a personal bathroom in their new home, I could see where sharing a space for so long might make individual family members hungry for something that is their own, which they do not have to share.  Thinking about this film and my own upbringing made me wonder about why personal space is so important?

This question made me think about Mr.Blanding’s dream house in the context of the American Dream.  Even though family is a large part of the the American dream, so is “independence”, which perhaps is why personal space is so essential for many people.  I thought specifically of the scene where Mr. Blandings called the new house “my” house, and his wife corrected him by saying that it is “our” house.  But really, the purpose of this house is to give each member a bit of their own independent space that reflects their tastes and interests.  Even though the house is supposed to bring the family closer together, each person in the house asks for a room so that they can be in peaceful solidarity.  These wants demonstrate the correlation between the American dream and having a space that is yours and only yours.  I hope and expect that the significance of personal space will resurface in this course throughout the semester.

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