American Dream – Shane

Shane – Task 3, group 2, Kira, Lisbeth and Gitte 

Setting1.  The film takes place somewhere in the Midwest – probably in the 1870s. In a rough country, with rugged mountains and widespread prairie, we see the small homesteads scattered across the countryside and a desolate small town situated in the middle of the valley.

2.a  The Starretts have built their own homestead consisting of a primitive log cabin, a vegetable garden, some cattle, horses, chickens. The place is surrounded by a wooden fence.  The cabin contains several rooms apart from the kitchen. It looks modest from the outside, but extremely cosy from the inside. A long side the cabin there is a small stable for the horses.   It is made clear that Joe Starrett has built up everything with his own hands and that his wife, Mariann, is a good wife who takes care of the vegetable garden, the animals and everything connected to the house keeping.  The family is still in the middle of building up their home and their farm and it is tough work, but they are content with their life and they stick together and help each other.   The land is a vast landscape surrounded by majestic mountains. It looks like good farming land with a stream going through it.

2.b  The town only consists of a few houses built closely together on each side of one or two  muddy streets. When you get into town you meet the blacksmiths workshop and the only store in the area, Grafton’s combined general store, hotel and saloon. Just outside the town there is a cemetery.  There is no church, school, bank, marshal, doctor or undertaker.  The homesteaders want to build up a civilized society where they can go to church and educate their children. They want to develop a law abiding society in a town and an area that can flourish and grow and prosper from the soil surrounding it.   The small society is clearly ruled by a government and the law, but throughout the film it is obvious that if someone decides to do something illegal – well then it is nearly impossible to stop him. They are very much dependant on each other and the moral standards each individual person is able to maintain. 

CharactersJoe and Mariann Starrett: A young, hard working couple, building up their farm and home. They have been happily married for 10 years. Mariann is beautiful and very feminine. She wants to make her world civilized. Even though she loves her husband she is also drawn to Shane as the dangerous man he is. However she is true to her husband. She knows right from wrong. Joe loves his family and he is a good man. He is also a leader for the other homesteaders. When he talks, they pay attention to him. They expect him to find a solution to their problems. He is a reliable person. He believes in his rights and wants to fight for them.

Joey Starrett : Their 7 or  8 year old son. He is a very sensitive boy. He is drawn to Shane’s skills with guns and also his strength as a man. Joey is a very intelligent, honest and caring person.

Shane : The Lone Rider who stays for a while with the Starretts and helps them out. He clearly has a background as some kind of gunman – maybe a cowboy? He is strong, mysterious and silent, he knows right from wrong. He is polite and modest and when he speaks he does it in a soft voice. He is brave and would rather die than loose his principles. He is the “good guy”, the angel coming from out of nowhere and disappearing again, when he has finished his job.

Stonewall Torrey: Another homesteader, who has a bit of a drinking problem. At the same time he seems to be hardworking and he will not accept injustice or bullying from any one.

Homesteaders: People who build up a small farm on a piece of land and then are able to call it their own.

Rufe Ryker: A rich stock breeder who wants to keep things in the real Wild West before it started to get civilized. When the land was his – free to drive his cattle wherever he chose. He tries to drive the homesteaders off the land. He cannot accept the new laws about homesteading. He is very powerful and makes his own laws. If someone goes against him, he will have him removed (killed). He likes strong people but only if they are on his side

Wilson: A hired gunman who enjoys killing and is paid for doing the dirty job, Rufe Ryker does not want to do himself, of getting rid of the homesteaders. He represents everything evil.

Chris Calloway: One of Ryker’s men. To begin with he provokes Shane and wants to get rid of the homesteaders as much as the other cowboys. Towards the end of the film he leaves Ryker and his gang because he feels things have gone too far with the killing of Stonewall Torrey.

Grafton: The owner of the general store and saloon. He wishes things were different. He wants the fighting to stop. He tries to make Ryker accept the new homesteading laws in the country. But he is quite weak and does not have the influence he would like to have. 

Representative for  the historical and cultural conflictJoe Starrett represents the farmers, who believe in democracy and solidarity and in sharing the land with others. They are settlers, who want to cultivate the wilderness and transform it into a civilised community.  Joe believes – with Jefferson amongst others – in a country based on agriculture.

Rufe Ryker represents the first pioneers, who fought their way through the wilderness. They fought with blood, sweat and tears to defeat the unknown challenges. But Ryker also lives in the past, thinking that the land belongs to him and people like him because they were the first to conquer the new frontier. Ryker is no bad man as such, but he cannot accept sharing the land with others and perhaps to be forced to reorganize his life.    

Women as representatives of civilizationIn several ways Mariann fits with the role of women as representatives of civilization. She has a vegetable garden and she reads books to her little boy. She takes care of the family and the housekeeping and is strong and feminine. In the beginning of the film she’s wearing jeans like the men, but as soon as Shane steps in and replaces her in some of the farming jobs, she starts wearing dresses again and recedes more into the background.  

A prominent part in the filmLittle Joey represents the future generation. He is a representative for those, who are not yet fixed in a permanent role. He has an open mind, he is curious and he is a boy. The innate boy character is shown in his interest for guns, fights and shooting.   Joey admires Shane. He likes being together with him, and he likes his being a farmhand on his father’s farm. But mostly he admires the mysterious side of Shane. The side that is very different from his father, and a side that lives more in Joey’s imagination than in his knowledge. Though Joey loves and admires his father, Shane has the qualities that Joey appreciates and which attracts him, being a lively and curious boy.  Who is Shane?   Shane is a trained gunman; it becomes obvious when he fights Ryker and Wilson. Why and how he became a gunman is hard to tell, because he is in a way a man without a history. The lonely rider, who enters the scene and leaves it again without letting anyone in on his secrets. He is used to living on his own, his horse being his only company. He wears buckskin clothes, which also work as a camouflage when he is riding on the open prairie.  Shane has not always been like this. When he buys working clothes in the shop, he says that is a long time since he bought ready-made clothes, so he has done so earlier in his life. Furthermore he wears a ring that could signify that Shane once had a relationship to a woman. A memory from an unhappy love affair, that made him flee into loneliness. One never knows – he stays the superficial relationship.    Shane dresses as the people he is living among. As long as he is staying together with the farmers, he dresses like them. At his arrival and at his departure he dresses differently.           Wilson behaves differently. He is dressed the same way all the time. He is a gunman too, but unlike Shane, Wilson seeks for an opportunity to shoot and kill, whereas Shane tries to avoid shooting and fighting. But when he is forced to do so he fights to win. Wilson is an outsider, called in for one particular reason – to kill. He does not wish to be part of the local society – neither the stockbreeders nor the homesteaders.  

The Western Hero When comparing with Warshow’s description of a Western hero, there is no doubt that Shane is the westerner whereas Wilson is the gangster. Shane is the gentleman who acts in accordance to his conscience. He stays relatively neutral as long as possible, but when his participation is needed, he acts on the side of law and justice.  

Shane – a farmer?  Shane works as a farmhand, because he understands that the Starrett family and the other homesteaders are fighting an unjust fight, and he wants to help them in their struggle to survive. But for himself to become a farmer is unlikely. He might in many ways envy Joe, especially his family, but he is a free man, tied by no bonds. And as he says himself, “A man has to be what he is. You can’t break the mould.”     

Why does Shane have to leave after the showdown? Shane defends the homesteaders’ rights to their claims by shooting the local stock breeder, his brother and the hired gunman. After that he leaves. Why doesn’t he stay and collect his reward? We believe that Shane is in love with Mariann, and because he is such a noble person he can’t stay.   Mariann is a married woman and Shane is too noble to try and win her. He would never steal another man’s woman. He also knows that Mariann could never accept a life with guns. He himself has tried to live without guns for a while, but it was not possible. Once a gunman – always a gunman.   Another reason for leaving might be that he fought Joe’s fight. Like Shane, Joe is a proud man. It would be too hard for them to live together, knowing that Shane fought Joe’s fight. 

What is the intended message? Stonewall Torrey is the weak link. He drinks and he doesn’t want to follow the group’s instructions on not going alone into town. The farmers must keep together or die!

Chris Calloway reacts to the killing of Stonewall Torrey. It is clear in the scene with the funeral that he is not on the side of Rufe Ryker any longer. He is really fighting with a bad conscience in this scene. 

11. Symbolic elements The stump: For a long time Joe has been working hard to remove the Stump. Alone he couldn’t do it. When Shane arrives he helps him uproot it. This is a symbol for the fact that together Shane and Joe can overcome everything. It symbolizes the power of the team Joe and Shane make. Also it is important to Joe that he can overcome the stump – one of obstacles that are in his way when cultivating the land – with the power of his own hands. The stump also symbolises the old times; the pioneers. Joe fights Ryker’s control over the area as he is fighting the stump in his courtyard. So far he has not succeeded in any of the fights, but with the help from an outsider, Shane, he beats both of them. 

Marian’s garden: A symbol of the fight for survival – you can grow your own food and survive. It is also a symbol of civilization. Cultivating the land and growing crops signify taming of the wilderness; growing a garden even more. We hear that Ryker’s cattle ruin the homesteader’s crops, but the cattle are not just ruining the crops by their own free will – they are driven by Ryker and his men. We also see Ryker’s men riding respectlessly through Marion’s garden, but the real combat with the wilderness is shown when the deer is eating the vegetables.

The Fourth of July party: The homesteaders are fighting every day to be independent and celebrating the Independence Day must be of utmost symbolic importance to them. Mariann is wearing her wedding dress, it is their 10th anniversary and Joe tells her that he doesn’t want to be anywhere else. Shane envies him but realizes that he cannot be in his place.

Torrey’s funeral: symbolizes the solidarity of the farmers. Everybody decides to help each other. They will fight for their rights.   

Task 2 – American Dream

American Dream Task 2

Let America be America Again: by Langston Hughes.

According to Langston Hughes the American Dream is a dream about a country where all people are free. It is a land where everybody is equal and free and has the same opportunities.  He indicates that the American Dream is a dream that has not yet been fulfilled. People like the poor white, the Negroes and the Indians, who was driven from their country, do not have equality, liberty and opportunities in America. Instead of being a free country it is a country run by profit, power, gain and greed.

I think the speakers of the poem are all the American underdogs, whatever colour they might be.

The Promised Land: by Bruce Springsteen.

In The Promised Land Bruce Springsteen tells a story about a young man, who works hard and tries to do everything right. However the young man is not happy with his life. At the end of the song the young man packs his bags and heads straight into the storm, where everything that does not have the faith to stand will blow away – his dreams and his tears, but also the lies that makes his life miserable. The story is situated in the desert to illustrate the fact that there is no hope, if he does not leave.

I believe the song is called “The Promised Land” because the young man lives in America. America promises opportunities for everybody. It is the land whereto you flee when you have no opportunities or freedom in your “old country”. However the young man feels he has none of the things he was promised.

Task 3 – Angela´s Ashes – Activity 2

Activity 2

Angela’s Ashes

 

Page 246 line 16…

 

Families up and down the lane are getting telegrams money orders from their fathers in England. They rush to the post office to cash the money orders so they can shop and show the world their good fortune on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The boys get their hair cut on Saturdays, the women curl their hair with iron tongs [ks1] hot from the fire. They’re very grand now the way they pay sixpence or even a shilling for seats at the Savoy Cinema where you’ll meet a better class of people than the lower classes who fill the tuppenny[ks2]  seats in the gods at the Lyric Cinema…

By Frank McCourt


 [ks1]Iron thongs – Jern tang – is a scissor like hinge women used to warm up to curl their hair [ks2]Tuppenny is a variant of  twopenny. It can also mean cheap or worthless.

Ireland today

Activity 1

Angela’s Ashes!

I have chosen to work with a passage from Angela’s Ashes. The passage I have chosen begins at page 246 line 8 What is dad to do… to page 249 line 6 …we can all go to America.

I intent to use this passage the middle of 8th grade or the beginning of 9th grade. The language and the topic are quite difficult but I believe the issues will motivate and engage a teenage class.

I plan to work with this book in my course on Irish culture and history. I will arrange for them to read about and work with Irish history, and when we read about the 1930ties to 1940ties I will let the pupils read this passage.

The vocabulary in this passage is not easy for Danish pupils in the 8th or 9th grade. It has not been prepared and simplified for pupils on this level. Words like eternal damnation, munitions, lower class, iron tongs, the dole, night girls, wireless and tormenting need to be explained.

Also some cultural references make it difficult for this group to read the passage. Expressions like tuppenny seats, fish and chip shops, scratching their arses on the queue at the Labour Exchange, look what the English did to us for eight hundred years, able to lord it over the families that don’t also need some extra explanation.

With this in mind I chose to work with some words and expressions. The pupils are already familiar with the Irish history in this period. I will start by giving them a brief orally introduction of who the author is and a short resume of his life story. After that I will pick out some of the difficult words: e.g. the dole, wireless, tormenting, lower class. I will ask them to use their dictionary and find the right explanation for the words.

E.g.

A: radio

B: To cause suffering

C: people with a low income

D: where you get your money from when you don’t have a job

After that I will ask the pupils to read the text at home. We will start the following lesson by reading part of the text loud in class or maybe the whole text depending on how it goes. After that we will talk about the above-mentioned cultural references.

After the reading I have prepared some questions for them to answer in groups.  I would like to concentrate on the Irish situation in the 2nd world war. Who did they support and why?  I will ask them to reread the song on page 247. The song some Irish families sang during the 2nd  World War. Why weren’t they loyal to the allied and why did they chose to work for them (the English) anyway? I think it is important that the pupils understand why the Irish reacted on the war the way they did. I want them to understand how poor some Irish were at the time. From this lessons I hope the pupils will also understand the relationship between the English and the Irish a little better.

I hope you will enjoy working with this as much as I have!

IRELAND TODAY

  

                                  Rainbow over Ireland

 Until the 1990s Ireland was known as” the sick man of Europe” (Observer 217/218, 1999). After the economic boom Ireland experienced at the end of the 20th century, this is no longer a nickname that fits.The reasons for this “boom” are many. One of the most important reasons[1] is the increase in foreign investments in Ireland – particularly from the United States.Ireland has become a country where business is very profitable. This is due to the fact that the Irish government decided to introduce cutbacks in public spending and in that way restore the nation’s finances. Once this was in place the interest rate fell and tax cuts were introduced. When the price for borrowing money fell the consumption increased and business investments followed.Also Ireland has developed health care and education considerably during the last part of the 20th century.So Ireland is no longer a country you flee. On the contrary the green island has become attractive – not only to the Irish themselves, but also to people from other countries.         

Immigration, emigration and net-migration in Ireland, 1987-2003[2]    In 1996 Ireland reached its migration “turning point”.  It now had more immigrants than emigrants. Irish emigration in the 20th century peaked in 1989 and has been on the decline ever since.  Immigration So Ireland has changed from being a land of emigrants to being a land of immigrants. Because of the low unemployment rate, but also because of an excellent health care and free education Ireland has become interesting to people seeking asylum, people from other EU countries and even Irishmen who have emigrated.Ireland’s labour immigration policies are among the most liberal in Europe, and until 2004 parents to children born in Ireland had an automatic right to permanent residence. In 2004 the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern conveyed that the system was misused, since 60% of the female asylum seekers were pregnant when they applied for asylum. Later the same year a Supreme Court judgement removed the right to permanent residency for parents of children born in Ireland. In January 2005 a new Nationality and Citizenship Act came into effect. Children born after first of January 2005 will get the same citizenship as their parents.People seeking asylum come from Nigeria, Romania, Moldova, Zimbabwe, Ukraine and Poland. It is quite a paradox that many of these people have the same integration troubles as similar people in Denmark. Henry McDonald, an Ireland Correspondent at The Guardian[3], wrote an article about how children from non-Irish ethnic backgrounds were not allowed into the local Catholic schools – simply because they were not Catholics. Since 90% of the schools in Ireland are Catholic schools it can be very difficult for people of other beliefs to become integrated into the community. The Irish government believed that the need for migrant workers would fall dramatically after the EU enlargement in 2004. (10 countries) They decided to grant access to the Irish labour market to all members of the EU. This meant that Ireland could get all the labour it needed from the EU and many people from other member countries of the EU move to Ireland today. The return of the Irish     During the last 10 – 15 years many Irish emigrants, who left their home country to seek happiness and fortune abroad, have returned to Ireland.Actually nearly half of the immigrants that rush into Ireland these years are Irish. They may have been born in another country, but by Irish parents and therefore they are considered Irish.Now you can easily find a job with a good salary and promotion possibilities. The housing situation and the general economy of the country are developing at great speed. Education has become free. There is no longer any need or reason for not living in your home country. It is obvious that emigrants have maintained a longing to return to their families and their home country and the present situation in Ireland offers many emigrants the possibility to return. Emigration With an increase of immigration, the number of immigrants has exceeded the number of emigrants, but still today a large number of people are leaving Ireland. From a population of 6 million people roughly 200,000 emigrate every year. In comparison with other European countries it is a relatively large number. The reason for leaving varies, but a common denominator is meeting personal demands. A large part of the emigrants leave: ·           To improve their possibilities of  further education·           To advance their careers·           To find better jobs with possibilities of promotion ·           To obtain better salaries A majority of the Irish emigrating within recent years are fairly well-educated specialists attracted by low cost of living or seeking new challenges within the labour market. The largest group has found employment within technical or computer-related industries.To a minority the social, political and cultural policy in Ireland is the reason for their decision on emigrating. The situation in Northern Ireland has been the crucial factor to a small group of emigrants. To a relatively large group, the main reason for leaving is simply the desire of exploring the world, looking for adventures.  Present emigrants are spread around the world, but they have a large preference for English-speaking countries of which the USA is the favourite.  Sources:          The Irish Mind Abroadirish-go-to-australia  migration.ucc.ie/irishinpariswww.globalvisas.com www.migrationinformation.org www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstorywww.guarian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/25/schoolwww.community.meath.ie/culture                


[1] According to the OECD (organization of industrial countries that works for the expansion of trade and economic growth)[2] Source: Central Statistics Office (CSO); Dublin

[3] British newspaper

Task 3 – Angela´s Ashes – Activity 1

Activity 1

Angela’s Ashes!

I have chosen to work with a passage from Angela’s Ashes. The passage I have chosen begins at page 246 line 8 What is dad to do… to page 249 line 6 …we can all go to America.

I intent to use this passage the middle of 8th grade or the beginning of 9th grade. The language and the topic are quite difficult but I believe the issues will motivate and engage a teenage class.

I plan to work with this book in my course on Irish culture and history. I will arrange for them to read about and work with Irish history, and when we read about the 1930ties to 1940ties I will let the pupils read this passage.

The vocabulary in this passage is not easy for Danish pupils in the 8th or 9th grade. It has not been prepared and simplified for pupils on this level. Words like eternal damnation, munitions, lower class, iron tongs, the dole, night girls, wireless and tormenting need to be explained.

Also some cultural references make it difficult for this group to read the passage. Expressions like tuppenny seats, fish and chip shops, scratching their arses on the queue at the Labour Exchange, look what the English did to us for eight hundred years, able to lord it over the families that don’t also need some extra explanation.

With this in mind I chose to work with some words and expressions. The pupils are already familiar with the Irish history in this period. I will start by giving them a brief orally introduction of who the author is and a short resume of his life story. After that I will pick out some of the difficult words: e.g. the dole, wireless, tormenting, lower class. I will ask them to use their dictionary and find the right explanation for the words.

E.g.

A: radio

B: To cause suffering

C: people with a low income

D: where you get your money from when you don’t have a job

After that I will ask the pupils to read the text at home. We will start the following lesson by reading part of the text loud in class or maybe the whole text depending on how it goes. After that we will talk about the above-mentioned cultural references.

After the reading I have prepared some questions for them to answer in groups.  I would like to concentrate on the Irish situation in the 2nd world war. Who did they support and why?  I will ask them to reread the song on page 247. The song some Irish families sang during the 2nd  World War. Why weren’t they loyal to the allied and why did they chose to work for them (the English) anyway? I think it is important that the pupils understand why the Irish reacted on the war the way they did. I want them to understand how poor some Irish were at the time. From this lessons I hope the pupils will also understand the relationship between the English and the Irish a little better.

I hope you will enjoy working with this as much as I have!