ET 17: Citizen Kane


“Guess all he really wanted out of life was love. That’s Charlie’s story, how he lost it. You see, he just didn’t have any to give. Well, he loved Charlie Kane of course, very dearly, and his mother, I guess he always loved her.”  How is this statement true?

This statement of Charles Foster Kane in the movie “Citizen Kane” does ring bells of truth. The whole film shows his separation with people-mostly women, whom he had intimate relationships with, and thus can be described as the story of ‘how he lost it.’ The first separation was with his mother when she gave him away to Mr Thatcher. Then it was the separation with his wife as he chose his mistress over her. After that, with his closest and oldest friend, Leland, who did not trust Kane anymore and finally the last separation which was with his mistress-turned second wife, Susan. His reaction towards the separation of his first wife and Leland goes to show that he did not value their relationship and did not mind if it was terminated as he did not show any emotion or put up a fight to save their relationship, in fact he ended both of the relationships himself.

However his first and last separation which was with his mother and then with his second wife, Susan had almost identical results. When Kane learnt that he was being separated from his mother, he put up a fuss and attacked Mr Thatcher with his sled then tried to run away. Similarly, after the departure of his second wife his reaction was like his first separation with his mother as he went berserk in Susan’s room and thrashed the whole place. His movements in that scene were not unlike his movements as a child when he put up a fight with Mr Thatcher; wild, uncontrolled and spontaneous. This show of raging emotions tells us that Kane at least loves his mother and perhaps his second wife as well.

On the other hand, while Kane may have had a similar reaction towards Susan’s leaving compared to his separation with his mother; I don’t think that he ever really did love Susan. Throughout the film he does not really bother with her, does not entertain her but only buys her materialistic stuff. She herself did not feel that he loved her and complained endlessly, until she stopped complaining and just left him. The reason he didn’t love her may be because, ‘he just didn’t have any to give.’ My opinion is that his love for his mother was so great that when he was separated with her, he enclosed steel walls around his heart and therefore after that did not really love anyone again.

We as an audience can see that he really did love and adore his mother as shown in that short scene when Charlie was a young boy and he stops mid-way to his father and turns back to his mother when she calls him. The way he looks up at her is so full of adoration that the audience knows instantly that this boy is a mama’s boy (in an un-Freudian sense). This proves that the statement at the top is correct in reference to him having always loved his mother, and of course himself which is clearly evident throughout the whole film as he does what he wants and congratulates himself while doing so. Proven by the line which goes somewhat like, ‘I am Charles Foster Kane, and I’ll decide what I can and cannot do!’

Kane’s rampage in Susan’s room after she left is halted by this snow globe he sees on the table top which seems to put him in a daze. He picks it up and walks out of the room not seeming to notice his whole staff watching him. My guess is that the snow globe reminded him of his home as a child which led to him thinking about his parents, especially his mother. He then realizes that, ‘all he really wanted out of life was love.’ To be more exact, his mother’s love and he realizes now that he will never get it nor anyone-else’s love as the only who did love him was Susan, but she has left as well. Everyone has left him. The only one that hasn’t left is himself and so he slinks to a life of solitude in his bed awaiting the final separation.

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2 thoughts on “ET 17: Citizen Kane

  1. The statement was not CFK’s, it was Jeb Leland’s.

    I find this essay somewhat hasty and uneven. For example, you take Kane’s rejection of Leland at face value — that he “did not value” the relationship. I think you have to look deeper. His action after the end was to send Leland a check and to print the review. I think the ending is more complex than you assert.

    What was the relationship with Susan about — if not love? You never really go into the specifics.

    I agree that Mary Kane is the missing piece of the “Rosebud” puzzle. But you aren’t all that specific about where you see that in the film.

    • Hi sir,
      Right, OK I’ll be more specific next time…and perhaps write 6 ET’s overall to make up for this one… =]
      And I was trying to say that the statement was about CFK, not said by him, sorry if it wasn’t clear.

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