I have to write a six page paper by Monday to answer the following prompt:

The film Imitation of Life takes place between 1947 and 1959 in and around New York City, following the lives of two single mothers. Each mother has a very different relationship to money, work, and family. Write an essay that attempts to account for why these characters are so different. Be careful to avoid simple compare-contrast arguments. Instead, focus on the meanings behind those differences, paying particularly close attention to their relationships to money, work, and family. As with the above prompt, since at least part of this prompt is historical and/or sociological in nature, use one historical, sociological, or critical source to assist you in your argument.

What does it mean to answer WHY one character differs from another? Wouldn’t it be rather presumptuous of me to assign arbitrary causes for why one woman is the way she is; while the other is another way? Also, am I attempting to decide why the characters are different in the movie by pretending that it were real (and hence they had unique and physical histories), or infer why the film director made them different in the way they are different?

How would you like it if I gave a 10 minute speech on why you are different from me, assigning reasons where there are none?

In essence, for the assignment I need to come up with the following and write it in English: A set of N independent variables S={s1, …, sN} and the causality function f:S→C that produces a set of characteristics (dependent variables) C for every set S of independent variables.

The only difference between the two mothers is race. One’s black and one is white. Everything else is a consequence of it: in the 1940s-1950s America, being black meant limited career opportunities. But I can’t explain why they’re different just because of their difference in race.

I might as well write an essay about how this is impossible given the dependent nature of everything but what each character is born with. The state of the entire universe at any particular instant is a function of the immediately-preceding state, and in a similar way, the circumstances of the characters are a direct result of how they began.

This doesn’t make sense. Help me. This is why I’m an Engineer, so I can actually solve and prove things that can be solved and proven.