The main themes explored in “Washdays” by Simon Neal are shame and the impact of parental attitudes on children. These themes are enhanced through the motifs of suspicion and mistrust as all the adults in the film tend to mistrust Kyle for one reason or another. The teacher assumes Kyle is late intentionally, the secretary of the medical facility finds it suspicious that Kyle wants to visit a doctor alone, and the librarian suspects him of using the library to look up pictures of naked women.


The theme of shame is explored through the main character and his actions. Kyle is a young boy who has a problem he is ashamed about: he wets the bed at night.

His feelings of guilt and shame are exacerbated by his mother’s attitude who makes him wash his sheets alone and who even writes about his problem to a teacher in a note.

Most of Kyle’s actions are driven by the shame he feels for wetting the bed. He does not tell the teacher why he is late because he does not want others to know about his problem.


The impact of parental attitudes on children

The impact of parental attitudes on children is explored through the characters of Kyle and his mother. The mother’s attitude towards Kyle’s problem frustrates the boy as he feels she is punishing him and holding him accountable for wetting the bed.

By making Kyle wash the bed sheets, the mother does not help her son to overcome his problem but makes him feel more ashamed. Furthermore, her remark about not wanting Kyle to become like his father, suggests that she projects the frustrations of her failed marriage or relationship on Kyle.


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