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 Post subject: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:29 pm 
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I apologize for posting this question so late. Work was crazy this morning. :-)

Comment on the effects of Dillinger’s experiences as a youth on the outcome of his life.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:57 pm 
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It's hard to make a direct connection between JD's childhood and his becoming public enemy #1! He seemed open to his share of childhood indiscretions, didn't have a great deal of education and suffered the loss of his mom at a young age, but he seemed to get along as well as most young boys. His desertion from the service made me wonder how troubled he might be, though. And it sounded like losing his first love affected him profoundly. So maybe this kid who got the book thrown at him went into prison very susceptible to being affected by his inmate buddies. And, of course, the unfairness of the sentence probably made him very bitter and vengeful. When he got out, it was like he wanted to make up for all the years he missed....in a hurry and at any risk.
As far as his private life, he was a friendly man who showed love to all of those near him, was very generous to them. He'd been surrounded with family love, just disciplined as needed, apparently. But I did wonder if there might be some darker influences along the way that haven't been uncovered.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:25 pm 
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I found it interesting that Dillinger started out as the pet of everyone who knew him. He was a highly regarded young man by his family, the community, and neighbors. He was a normal, mischievous boy. Though he was a long way from the makings of a public enemy. But I think the lost of his first love Frances Thorton was a major turning point for him. Perhaps his station in life became more apparent after being deemed "not good enough" by the girl's parents. I know his falling in with the wrong crowd had a majority to do with his downward spiral but losing his girlfriend had an impact. This experience really made him realize that people don't respect you unless you have something to offer. After the girl, Dillinger was bored with his small town and his rural life. He started going out of town and eventually joined the navy for a spell. But nothing compares to drinking and robbery.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:37 pm 
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The first time I read this book, I was deeply affected by the scene of the little boy, scarcely more than a baby, pulling a chair up to his mother's coffin and shaking her to wake her up. (page 10-11) In spite of being mothered by his sister and step mother after that, it seems to me he had to always be affected deeply by that loss. I am not sure any amount of nurturing could compensate for that.

I think that some of his rebellious mischievous nature was a problem for him, and one thing lead to another ..... but that alone was not enough to explain how he ended up. I believe the associations he made during his 9 years in prison were chiefly to blame for his outlaw career.

His nature might have been a little wild, but I guess I come down on the side of nuture - or lack of it - and bad influences.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:18 pm 
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I probably should have defined youth. Ha! In my mind it was all the way through his 20s. To me, that’s young. :lol: I feel like he was given a raw deal over his robbery of the grocer. And in doing so, he met the wrong crowd with which he developed a bond, and developed an attitude against authority. But I think this goes back to his high school days, where Frances Thorton’s parents ended her relationship with Dillinger. I agree with trygirl that he was probably very affected by that, and assumed that he was considered by society as “not good enough”. I keep going back to his lines in the movie while he and Billie are at the restaurant, and he says to her that what counts is not where you are, but where you’re going (or something to that effect). The loss of his mother at age 3 (as Nebraska and Betty Sue pointed out) had to have an affect, also. One needs the balance of a nuturing mom, methinks. Tomorrow we will delve deeper into the women in Dillinger’s life.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:39 pm 
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My impression of John Dillinger's youth was normal for a rural boy. The loss of his mother was hard for him to accept at such a young age but his family expecially sister Audrey nurtured him as best she could. His step-mother showed him much love too. As he got older he was quiet rebellious and seem to crave excitment. The loss of his first love pained him deeply and he looked at society as not accepting him for who he was. With the grocery robbery, the law really delt with him severly. By the harshness the establishment hardened him and pushed his feeling of inferiority. I feel the time in prison pushed him into the life that he chose. From that point of his life forward, he was on the outside looking for recognition - good or bad.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:42 pm 
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(I thought I posted a reply hours ago, but it doesn't seem to be here. :perplexed: )

Apparently Brian Burrough thought that Dillinger's father was abusive--
"Born in 1903, Dillinger was the classic nobody from nowhere, a terrible student with an abusive father who found himself at loose ends in his early 20s. He tried the Navy but went AWOL, then marriage, which didn't take..."


That's not the impression of Dillinger's relationship with his father that I get from the current book.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:08 pm 
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fansmom wrote:
(I thought I posted a reply hours ago, but it doesn't seem to be here. :perplexed: )

Apparently Brian Burrough thought that Dillinger's father was abusive--
"Born in 1903, Dillinger was the classic nobody from nowhere, a terrible student with an abusive father who found himself at loose ends in his early 20s. He tried the Navy but went AWOL, then marriage, which didn't take..."


That's not the impression of Dillinger's relationship with his father that I get from the current book.

And that is not the impression that I had gotten from Burrough's book either. In PE, the book, he termed it as "he worked long hours and showed little interest in his son". He went on to say later that the Sr. Dillinger collapsed into a chair when he heard the news of Dillinger's death and asked if it was really true. He said that he had prayed and prayed for it not to happen. I think this was in Girardin's account also. Maybe there is new evidence that he was abusive.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:49 pm 
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There is a line in the movie where Dillinger is talking to Billie and he says (and I'm paraphrasing) his mother died at an early age and he was raised by a father that beat (not sure that is the exact word) him because that's the only way he knew to raise him. I wonder why that line was included? There must have been some research that raised the idea.

Dillinger seemed to me to be a well liked as a youngster, mischevious but not necessarily someone you would peg to become a criminal in later life. I agree with those that believe his time in prison shaped his future. In tomorrow's question about the women in his life, I think there may be more to say about what may have steered his life in that direction as well.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:50 pm 

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I think "abusive" might be a matter of opinion. I tend to take the view of the line in the movie - "My daddy beat the hell outta me because he didn't know no better way to raise me." We're talking about the early 1900s, and back then I think more fathers probably beat their kids than didn't. It was just discipline, which the Sr. Dillinger felt obliged to administer. If we're to believe the accounts, his father was "honest" with "kind brown eyes", and his sister "loved him as his own" so I really don't get the impression that he was abused or neglected. He didn't have an easy early life, but not one that should create public enemy number one.

I think ladylinn touched on something when she said "normal for a rural boy". I tend to agree, and I think this is where "nature" plays a big role. Dillinger wanted a lot more out of life than what Mooresville had to offer. His nature was an ambitious one, and being stuck in "small town USA" probably made him stir crazy. Being a teenager in a small town with absolutely nothing to do just leads to trouble. (Ok, that last line is coming completely from my own personal experience, but I can totally relate!!!) I believe it's why he hung out in the pool hall; it's why he drank; it's why he mugged the grocer with Singleton.

What happened after that I attribute to "nurture". To say he got a "bum deal" is putting it mildly. Still just a kid, he took his dad’s advice and pleaded guilty, believing he’d get a reduced sentence. But he was betrayed by those he'd been taught to trust (the law) and his friend (Singleton). He was robbed of his youth, and if being confined to a small town was bad, a jail cell for 9 years had to be immeasurably worse. All for one very bad night of youthful indiscretion where no permanent damage was done. I'm sure the resentment he felt burned inside him during the time he spent in jail. So he made new friends in the poker, they commiserated with him that life ain't fair, and they taught him how to take it back – thereby nurturing his very ambitious nature. ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:42 pm 
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I am reading the comments here and occasionally might jump in. Somehow, overall, I have a hard time "buying" the notion that awful events influenced Dillinger. I found quite a balance in his life. Good and the Bad. I think he was probably born with a particular personality. Quite mischievous. A full of heck sort of guy. He was attracted to certain rebellious types early on. I had trouble when he quickly fell in with the buddy to rob the first guy. The initial seemingly unfair jail sentence he received really angered him especially when his accomplice practically walked. THAT and the time in jail he endured, I think, set the pattern. Somewhat cocky guy who maybe got a thrill out of walking the fine line outside the law.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:09 pm 
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Nature VS nurture? I've always been of the belief that both play a pretty equal part in an individual and reading of John Dillinger didn't change that opinion . Loosing his mother and having a stern father probably didn't help. He was out to seek a thrill even as a young man which led him to spending his time in the bar rooms instead of around the farm. He tended towards older bad influences as a youth so going to prison could not have been a worse place for him. I do think before prison he had a 50/50 chance of going either way and the prison sentence ruined those odds. Loosing his girlfriend could have contributed to his wayward ways that lead him to his first crime.
Nature VS nurture.....both were against him.


Last edited by gemini on Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:27 am, edited 2 times in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:12 pm 
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deppaura, feel free to jump in anytime. I think there was a combination of things at work here, just like most of you have said. One thing led to another until he found on the road of no return.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:23 pm 
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Betty Sue wrote:
It's hard to make a direct connection between JD's childhood and his becoming public enemy #1! He seemed open to his share of childhood indiscretions, didn't have a great deal of education and suffered the loss of his mom at a young age, but he seemed to get along as well as most young boys. His desertion from the service made me wonder how troubled he might be, though. And it sounded like losing his first love affected him profoundly. So maybe this kid who got the book thrown at him went into prison very susceptible to being affected by his inmate buddies. And, of course, the unfairness of the sentence probably made him very bitter and vengeful. When he got out, it was like he wanted to make up for all the years he missed....in a hurry and at any risk.
As far as his private life, he was a friendly man who showed love to all of those near him, was very generous to them. He'd been surrounded with family love, just disciplined as needed, apparently. But I did wonder if there might be some darker influences along the way that haven't been uncovered.




Great quotes, you took the words and wrote them better than they would have been typed here on this computer.

I felt really sad about him loosing his mom so early in life. (I just wanted to take him in my arms and make it all better).
It made me think that he really wouldn't trust others for a very long time.
But he seemed to attach himself to those who really loved him. The bond between him and his sister was almost a mother/ son relationship.
I think he had a lot of hard times and when he would go out shooting with his dog in the woods he would really do a lot of soul searching and some crying wishing things were different.
If the judge had not committed him to 9 yrs in jail, I think things would have been different, he would have been a different person.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #2 ~ Nature vs. Nurture
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Baxendale Guitar wrote:
If the judge had not committed him to 9 yrs in jail, I think things would have been different, he would have been a different person.

I think so too, BG.



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