People today realize that individualism in our time, of the Great Depression, doesn’t work. The stock market is plunging; people are losing their jobs, money, and homes. The most well known people suffering through these hard times are the Okies. Okies come from Oklahoma, the major home of the Dust Bowl. The Okies continue to flock to the land of promise, California. Their motive is to find work and better living conditions. These independent minded individuals are struggling to take care of themselves during these hardships, hoping that with the help of government, things will improve.
The perfect examples of individualism verses community can be found in John Stinebeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and the new film presented by John Ford. Although the basic stories deal with the same issues, they also are different. In the film, Ford’s main character, Tom Joad, played by Henry Fonda, is a man just released from prison who finds his former life style as a simple farmer, has been turned upside down by depression, natural geological disaster, and economic changes. His views on life are manipulated by his prior society.
Tom encounters a former preacher in the field of his hometown. The preacher, Casey, has lost his job, hope, and faith. Another character is Muley Graves, who was stubborn to stay on his lost land instead of moving west with his family. Muley informs Tom and Casey about the eviction of the Joad family and their staying on Uncle John’s farm, soon to be taken over as well. Since the Joad family is forced to desert their land and now lost all their belongings, they start heading west. After the Joads arrive to California, they encounter several camps.
Each camp differs from one another based on the living conditions; the government camps purvey a much healthier and comfortable existence than the non-government-funded camps. The Joad family serves as an example of the many other migrant families who are pushed off their Dust Bowl farmland, and are forced to move out west, seeking better job opportunities. While struggling under the stress of hardship, all these families are trying to keep unity between their family members, as well as to overcome the oppression by large landowners.
Although some lost hope, others continue the fight against the Great Depression that keeps them going. In “The Grapes of Wrath”, the realistic demonstration of the living conditions of our financial crisis by the actors is impressive. The film provides a well example of struggles in today’s, 1940s, American Culture. The famous film actor, Henry Fonda, shows a great deal of passion in his roll as Tom Joad. He illustrates well the hollowness of the American Dream.
Although the film doesn’t exhibit the government’s policy and legislation boldly, it does provide a more moving portrayal of today’s hardships than any textbook could give. In “The American Century” textbook, it gives a general overview of all the American families without providing us with personal connection to experiences. In spite of the textbook’s lack of use of emotions, it provides a lot of facts and information about the government’s involvement in people’s lives and the polices created to help them.
However, the film has a stronger advantage of showing the effect of the government policies and of the legislation on people. The film presents a group of extraordinary actors who give a four star performance. The only disappointment is that the emotive script asks for a much deeper connections from everyone. However, the performance is excellent and it displays a realistic setting. In conclusion, hopefully “The Grapes of Wrath” will still be around for future generations to illustrate the hardship and suffrage of our time.