The Long Walk Home

Introduction

A film The Long Walk Home, directed by Richard Pearce, written by John Cork, and starring Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg, is an educational and very insightful story describing the historical period of the middle 20th century in Montgomery, USA. The movie depicts a complicated period of struggle for civil rights and equality. The central characters are two women: a housemaid Odessa Cotter and her white lady master Miriam Thompson, whose connection goes beyond simple employment relationship. Namely, the women develop compassion and empathy for each other. They become friends and join the American civil rights movement of the mid-1950s.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk_Home

 

Body Paragraphs

The story is clear and simple. There is no need for the viewers to read much between the lines or look for hidden meanings. However, the significance of these meanings is hard to be overvalued. The plot develops around the Montgomery Bus Boycott – a historical event with a long past and numerous consequences. The Long Walk Home presents a view of this fight for social equality focusing on Odessa Cotter’s refusal to use the segregated buses and the influence of such decision on those around her. The film describes ordinary life of middle-class people living in complicated time of social rebellion and public conflict. Dwelling on the contrast between the lives of black and white families, another idea of the movie suggests that social superstitions and antipathy go both ways: black families also dislike the whites in general. This issue is evident when Odessa mentions Mrs. Thompson in a prayer during the family dinner. In such difficult time, people have to identify themselves and the current circumstances of life, find where they stand, and take full responsibility for their decisions and actions. This internal social conflict is well expressed in the dialogue between the two major characters in the movie:

Odessa Cotter: Miss Thompson, I don’t want your children to grow up scared of mine.

Miriam Thompson: It’s just that a lot of the whites are scared. I’m a little scared.

Odessa Cotter: We’re all scared. What’s scarin’ you Miss Thompson, who you are, or what Mr. Thompson wants you to be?

Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100046/characters/nm0000155

Eventually, the viewers see how the inner struggle of Mrs. Thompson resolves. Specifically, she decides to do what is right to her by supporting the black people’s fight for dignity and freedom and works for the carpool. Miriam Thompson explains the prevailing attitudes towards the black people in the following words: “The rest of the world around is living that way and you just don’t question it.” What she says is true. For this reason, the world history contains so many lasting negative events and experiences: people appear to be easy to influence and manipulate. Giving them an idea that others do the same will entice them thoughtlessly follow the crowd. Undoubtedly, such an approach is easier than taking the trouble of thinking and deciding for oneself and taking full responsibility for his or her own actions. Similarly, in The Long Walk Home, although some white people seemed rather empathetic to blacks in their personal attitudes, they did not go as far as putting it out in the open. It just seemed inappropriate to consider treating blacks like equals.

The significance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott formed on the basis of many years of segregation and enslavement of black people, oppression of their liberty and the absence of any their recognition as human beings. The massive enslavement of Africans by the English, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Americans was justified by extensive spreading of misleading ideas about the inferiority of black people. Despite this worldview developed initially for economic reasons, this form of thinking proved so persuasive and routed so deeply that it continued to exist long after the abolition of slavery preserving numerous social discriminations. The actual full liberation of African Americans had to be struggled for not only in law courts but also in every other sphere of life: in public places, business and church communities, to list a few.

Every existing society or social group endures numerous complexities on a variety of levels: historical, cultural, political, economical, religious, ethnical, and ethical among others. In order to ensure community and individual well-being, it is crucial to identify and confront social injustice. Hence, promoting individual and community understanding of the significance of self-identification is critical. In addition, this process often lies in the intricate relations between people and their families, neighborhood, community, society, policies, and laws. Cases of extensive social injustice, such as that suffered by black people in the mid 20th century USA, can be identified as a historic trauma. Those were past traumatic events perpetrated upon an entire culture, which have direct effects on the subsequent future.

Historic traumas pass on from generations to generations; they present the root causes to many social symptoms, including violence, abuse, suicide, and many others. Among the central concerns of The Long Walk Home is the issue of tremendous misconception and trespassing of human dignity. Moreover, under the circumstances described in the movie, this notion seems nonexistent, unlike in the contemporary world of democracy where human dignity should be central to every social policy. However, the significance of human dignity always emerges from the abuse and torture of human beings as the film evidences.

Conclusion

Under different circumstances, generations of people learn different things because they have to learn how to live in an environment that is contemporary to them. Nevertheless, prior to moving forth, one needs to go back and acknowledge what happened before, what laid the ground for the present. Hence, the ideas of individual and collective identity and the importance of remembering, comprehending and healing historic trauma appear significant. In my opinion, The Long Walk Home is an audience-friendly, comprehendible and insightful movie that effectively performs a very significant educational function. I believe this film should be widely used for cultural and informational purposes spreading the awareness about one of the central issues of the US history.

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