Jackson's Dilemma Summary and Analysis - Process Analysis Essay Example

The book Jackson's Dilemma focuses on a few friends who come from wealthy families. The book introduces the story with all the friends sited in a circle discussing an upcoming coming wedding. The wedding involves a polite and good-looking Edward and Marian who is a pretty girl. The group is critically analyzing the wedding the day before the actual wedding date. It is the final preparation so as to ensure that everything runs as planned (Murdoch, 1996). In the midst of the finalization, an unknown person drops a note that Marian is gone. The note states that Marian had cancelled the wedding and had mysteriously disappeared. The disappearance of Marian puts the group into a chaotic odyssey as all the members attempt to find out where Marian had gone. The process of finding Marian drives them to make numerous discoveries about others, themselves and the nature of beings.

The search for Marian persists for a period of time without bearing any fruit. Friends collaborate with each other through ringing each other and passing information about the progress of the search (Murdoch, 1996). The book dictates that all the friends are very much affected by the disappearance and they are not able to console each other (Forsyth, 1990). In some instances, some group members are reluctant in conducting the search given that the other members would continue with the search.

The author also introduces Jackson who is the master of Ceremony in this function. He is manifested as a calm man who was formerly homeless but currently a foreman in a large estate. Despite his simplicity, Jackson appears to be the most helpful man in the whole story (Murdoch, 1996). While all other friends are in a dilemma on what to do, Jackson is in a dilemma on how to help each one of them overcome the situation. As the story elapses, Jackson appears mysterious as he uses his skills in helping the group members cope with the situation. He is the unifying factor to the group and the search is totally based on him.

Group Processes

Throughout the story, several group processes are apparent as the issues emerge relating to the disappearance of Marian. The group processes are mainly evident in the way different characters in the group respond to the news of Marian's disappearance. In addition, different group processes emerge in the manner in which several characters in the group handle the problem. Finally, group processes are portrayed through Jackson's effort to help all the group members cope with the situation.

Group Think

Throughout the story, group think is openly manifested. As the story starts, news about the cancelled wedding is first delivered to the group. This news reached the group as final preparations were in progress (Murdoch, 1996). The discovery of the mysterious note puts the group in a dilemma and none of the group members were willing to make the first move. The author illustrates that Marian would have been found if the group would have acted with haste. It took time for the group to reach consensus on how to act. The group thinks made each of the group members watch on each other in terms of who would be first to act. Maybe most of the group members had a mind guard and conformity pressure (Forsyth, 1990). Though most of them showed great interest for Edward, the interest was not practical since none seemed to act.

The first move by the group is to blame Marian. Instead of devising a mechanism to solve the situation, the group starts by having a heated blame game. Some think that Marian must have been incited by other people. Others have a stand that Marian was not meant for Edward while others blame fate. Another group insists that Marian had to be found and the wedding to be rescheduled. All the argument leads to a general consensus that Marian was to be found.

Social Loafing

When the full story is analyzed, the group is thought to have achieved very little. Most of the group members end up in a dilemma when the search becomes complicated. The only person who comes to their rescue is Jackson. The failure of the search can be attributed to social loafing. In this case, group members had initially thought that Marian was within the locality (American Psychological Association, 1997). To their disappointment, Marian appears to have moved further than they thought. The search appeared more challenging and appealing. The search can only bear fruit if persistent effort is applied by all members.

However, as more challenges emerge, the group members gradually withdraw their efforts. They only apply their efforts through phone calls, each one confirming their support. At the end of the day, the whole issue is left on Edward who is the bridegroom. The group members become less interested in the search as things become more complicated. Majority of the participants are not willing to give their all since each one considers the search as a group effort. It is quite clear that each group member's energy is not fully utilized since the matter is handled by a group (Murdoch, 1996). It is also quite evident that the search for Marian would have been managed well if group members acted individually.

Social Implosion

In the matter at hand, social implosion does not involve a smaller group, but one person who acts as an individual in the effort of helping the entire group. As noted earlier, the search creates confusion among all the group members with some reducing their contribution. Some come up with crazy ideas with some opting to give up with the search. Others like Edward and close allies are totally frustrated with the fact that Marian is nowhere to be found (Forsyth, 1990). Jackson has to separate from the group mentality and devise mechanisms aimed at helping the other members.

Though he is the least regarded member of the group, his contribution cannot be underestimated. It is clear that he plays a noticeable role in enhancing cohesiveness in the group. In addition, he acts as a motivation factor among many group members who appear demoralized. His shift from the entire group is deliberate given that most people in the group were becoming desperate with the search (American Psychological Association, 1997). It is his energy that helps in intensifying the search. Jackson is of great help to Edward who is hugely affected by the disappearance of Marian. Therefore, Jackson may not be considered a split group but a necessary split that enhances the effectiveness of the group.


Deindividuation is evident across the plot of the story as the search intensifies. It is clear that the group members appear to lose self-awareness due to the intensity of the search. One can argue that Jackson splits from the group mentality so as help to the group to regain its self-consciousness (Forsyth, 1990). As the matter becomes complicated, the group tends to become more emotional and less regulated. The search becomes fruitless since many members get out of course. Some, like Edward, become more responsive to the problem and this makes him be more emotional destabilized (Murdoch, 1997). There is urgency for someone to pop in and help the group to regain its focus. With the lack of self-regulation, there is reduced group cohesiveness that weakens the search process.

New Group Think

Though one may perceive the new groupmind as a late occurrence, it is the aspect that helped the group to unite again. The emergence and development of the new groupthink can be attributed to Jackson. New groupthink marked a noticeable turning point in the search process. The new groupthink brought people together and enhanced the cohesiveness (American Psychological Association, 1997). The last failure of the group was mainly due to the processes discussed above. Most of these processes affected the group negatively and new groupthink is the only positive aspect that favors the search. Courtesy of Jackson, the new groupthink contributed greatly to finding Marian. Due to creativity and cohesiveness, Marian was finally found in London. However, Marian was no longer willing to marry Edward (Forsyth, 1990). Though the search had caused tremendous pain among the group members, it was finally perceived as a waste of time.

How the Group Processes Affected the Outcome of the "Problem"

From the above experiences, group processes, initially, were about to paralyze the search. As earlier stated, the group members were less committed to the search due to the group mentality. The mentality made each group member hope that the other person would act. In addition, the search took too much time since many group members lost the self-consciousness on the issue (Forsyth, 1990). However, things change when Jackson acts as an individual with the aim of uniting the group and enhancing self-awareness. Jackson contributes greatly in helping the members address emotional as well as real issues. With enhanced self-awareness, the members became more focused and creative (Murdoch, 1996). Consequently, the members focused on strategies that would enhance substantial results. With the cohesive effort, the search intensified and Marian is found. Though Marian is no more in love with Edward, it is clear that the group had attained its main goal of finding her.


  1. American Psychological Association. (1997). Group dynamics. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  2. Forsyth, D. R., & Forsyth, D. R. (1990). Group dynamics. Pacific Grove, Calif: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co.
  3. Murdoch, I. (1996). Jackson's dilemma. New York: Viking.