Tuesday, August 22, 2006


'CAUSE WE'RE THE PEOPLE


Last night I watched The Grapes of Wrath again, and took great heart from Ma Joad's closing lines, which now had an uncannily apt resonance:

"Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good an' they die out. But we keep a'comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."

6 comments:

Michael Nickels-Wisdom said...

Excellent quote. Sometimes when I'm down, I remember those last three words and the way she said them. My grandma used to say the Depression didn't affect the people she knew as much as it did the rich; the rich lost their excess, but ordinary folks plugged along as usual.

Robert Brady said...

I've always loved that poignant, courageous stream-of-thought little speech, delivered so well by 'Ma,' but for me her subject had always been the 'back-then' rich and poor, from the depression years; this time, though, it had an additional, differently hopeful meaning...

Mick Brady said...

How comforting to romanticize the 'little folk'; those cute, warm, fuzzy little poor people, a view not far removed from Rousseau's Nobel Savage. Truth be told, we're all 'the people', for better or for worse.

Robert Brady said...

Yeah that cute, warm, fuzzy stuff really rubs some folks the wrong way. Probly why they made the movie.

Mick Brady said...

Have to agree with you there; distortion of the truth for ideological reasons does rub some of us the wrong way. Steinbeck, as you may recall, faced a huge backlash in response to the book's exaggeration of the ugly side of capitalism and its romantic mythologizing of the Dust Bowl migrations - which, by the way, I have no problem with, as long as we all acknowledge that it's fiction.

Robert Brady said...

In the book, the family went from bad to worse, which stemmed from Steinbeck's direct personal (reportorial) observations of very hard times (that kind of urgency can inspire exaggeration). The movie was actually brighter than the book, and ended more hopefully, with the government portrayed as protective of the individual. Trying to be as fair as they figured the times (not to mention the boxoffice) would allow. Much of the movie, BTW, especially the refugee camps, was very unromantic; not a myth anyone would want to be part of, but could take pride in forebears who'd been there.