American Experience(s)

There is no “American experience.”  Instead, there are many.  Different circumstances lead to different experiences for Americans.  For children like Ellen Foster in Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, losing a parent and living with an abusive one was a struggle she had to face.  It is also a struggle that other children face.  Some children are born with young parents, like the young infant in The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, who has a dead mother and young gangster father who has the responsibility of taking care of her.  Young and old, black and white, what it meant to be an American changed and what it means to be an American keeps changing.

In The Help by Kathryn Stockett, blacks were put in the inferior position by whites, and were selfless in their way of life.  They would get paid only a small amount to cook, clean, manage, and raise a child for families who were at times nice and forgiving and other times snobby and selfish.  The experience for blacks during the 1900’s might not fall under the category of what it means to be an American for some people, but that view is incorrect.  In truth, what the black population went through and how the white population stimulated that decided how our country and its peoples developed and matured.

In truth, right before and during the Civil Rights Movement the black population acted more American than the racist Caucasians who discriminated against them.  The beginning of the beautiful country of American began with a revolution against a mean oppression.  For blacks to revolt and keep pride in themselves against the oppression of their peers and their fellow citizens is to uphold the American legacy of rebelling at a time when wrong has been done.  The American experience does have to do wit race, religion, and upbringing.  Ellen Foster had a horrible upbringing with a dead mother and abusive father; her experiences would have to do with her upbringing.  She was also white, and experienced things differently than her black friend, Starletta. Starletta’s experiences had to do with her race, and the way she was brought up was affected by that.  For Aibilene in The Help, she took care of children and experienced first hand the differences between raising her black child and how those those white children she cared for were raised.  All Americans have had different treatments and no two are the same.  There have also been changes over time.  What one person might have experienced in the 1920’s is different than what they go through now.  America has matured and has kept developing since its birth in the late 1700’s.  Like Ellen Foster, the United States looked down on blacks as inferior and disease infested.  But after growing up a bit, Ellen learned to appreciate her black friend, and the United States gave equal rights to all its people.

People are different, and though they want to be the same, it won’t happen.  Therefore, no two lives are the same and no two Americans.  In 20 years, those living in the beautiful and proudest nation will learn different values and have different experiences, but the one things that will remain the same is that there are differences and they must be accepted.  That’s the one thing that will never change for any American.

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath explains a lot about life, but not every young reader can realize this because of all the wording and the extensive descriptions.  But some chapters showed a glimpse into society.  For example, Chapter 17.

Chapter 17 explained how families became a society in and of themselves, and it very much identical to how already-established societies developed.  It’s a different approach to the experiences of the families; instead of the worries about the land and their crops, there are worries about food being cooked and amount of gasoline and oil and whether the men will be able to get work.  The land drying up and the families needing to move opened up other things that became necessities, unlike before.  The wives needed not to worry about the food over a fire and to watch the family eat, but to worry about men’s harsh farm work and when the dust would blow, the safety of their family.  The men only took time for their crops and livestock and family; when the dust arose, they feared the safety of that family.  But migrating out of the Dust Bowl not only presented opportunities for work, but opportunities to die.

This great change in their lives not only affected their external state but the internal one as well.  Instead of being workers of the farms, they are workers of migration.  The farmers become migrant workers and, therefore, change who they are.  Not only with the migration, but with leadership and other duties.  Men or women fit to lead do these, and other children or adults not meant to lead do other duties needed by this little society.  Life is upside down and new responsibilities rise a sold one fall.  These families relearn how to respect each other and how to care for one another.  This was a turning point in the book.

What I mean is, I love winter, and when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love

—John Knowles, A Separate Peace

We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (via joynearlylikesorrow)

bookcoverdaily:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

bookcoverdaily:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.

—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (via snagamat)

shitroughdrafts:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. 1939.

shitroughdrafts:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. 1939.

quotesfromfiction:

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s as far as any man got a right to say.” - The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

quotesfromfiction:

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s as far as any man got a right to say.” - The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

chos:

The Arrival

The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.

Throughout the book the immigrant keeps doing what he needs to bring his family over to continue their life with him. Most or at least some immigrants go through this same experience. The father, or man of the house, travels to the foreign land all alone. As he works and tries to make money he is sending some over to the family he left behind. Eventually he is able to bring the rest of him over. He is just doing what he believes is right.

Illustrations by Shaun Tan

aanderson15moher:

This graphic novel is unlike others because the reader experiences what the immigrants also experience.

coolfinalprojectstuff:

Hes doing what he needs to do to survive in America.

Man Push Cart (2005)

Directed by Ramin Bahrani

Cinematography by Michael Simmonds

 

aanderson15moher:

He knows what he has to do and he does it.

(Source: cloudless-and-fortressless)

Unless we do what we can non-violently, the world will unravel into violence.

—Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, at UC Berkeley ASUC debate about divesting money from corporations profiting from Israeli militarization and settlement of Palestinian territories…12:32 AM, still hours to go. (via learningaboutstuff)

People need to change their ways as the world changes around them.

People need to change their ways as the world changes around them.

Watch Billy the Kid on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch Billy the Kid on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch The Crash of 1929 on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch The Crash of 1929 on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch Clinton on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch War Letters on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch War Letters on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch Surviving the Dust Bowl on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch Surviving the Dust Bowl on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Watch A Powerful Partnership on PBS. See more from American Experience.