Great Depression Dorothea Lange's Iconic Picture Of Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Children Type: Essay Paper: #58224284 Related Topics: Ph, Teen Depression, Depression, Poverty
Excerpt from Essay :

Great Depression

Dorothea Lange's iconic picture of the Great Depression in America is titled simply, "Migrant Mother." The title depersonalizes the image of Florence Thompson, who Jennifer Keene claims is "angry and bitter" that the photographer never asked her name, nor used the photograph to help the poor. According to Keene, Thompson believes that Lange profited from the photo without fulfilling the original promise to inspire government aide for the poor. On the other hand, Thompson's two youngest children are also depicted in the photograph taken in 1936. One of those daughters claims that it is only via self-reliance that economic independence is possible, suggesting that government aide is not necessarily the best or only way to help the poor. Indeed, the best way to help the poor at any time is to provide a diverse range of programs and resources. The "poor" should never be lumped together as a homogenous group. There are many reasons why people are poor and many different means of helping individuals to achieve their personal goals.

It is insulting to suggest, as Keene does, that Thompson might not be viewed as "deserving" of aide because she had a teenage daughter. Likewise, Keene wrongly suggests that the photo showing a suitcase full of clothes would have also made Thompson seem less than deserving. There is no reason why either of these factors should matter, especially in the 1930s. In the 1930s, justice to the range of possible scenarios that led to a person's economic conditions. Furthermore, Keene suggests that a teenage daughter might have been viewed as a source of labor rather than see the teen as being in need of an education. Solving the problem of poverty will certainly not entail child labor, which often restricts access to upward social mobility via higher education.

While it is impossible to know exactly what Dorothea Lange intended with her photograph, it is certain that she was concerned with the plight of America's poor. As a photojournalist, Lange knew that her image was a powerful one. Whether or not she wanted to use her photo for personal gain or not is not an important issue. Lange had every right to sell her photograph and use it to promote her career. What does matter is the fact that the media picked up on the Lange image and used the Thompson image as a poster for the Great Depression

Representing the Great Depression, the photograph became highly politicized. Although most Americans do not know Thompson's…

Sources Used in Documents:


Keene, Jennifer. "Dorothea Lange and Migrant Mother." Video retrieved:

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