Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Three Brothers

On location of Resettlement Administration film near Bakersfield, California. Three brothers, drought refugees from Texas (note water barrel)

This is a photo taken in November 1935 by Dorothea Lange at a Resettlement Administration centre in California. The photo depicts three young boys who have migrated, with their family, from Texas. They appear to be sitting in a truck where all of their possessions are covered by a blanket. They also have a barrel of water, which conveys the idea of some of the difficulties faced by migrating families, for example the rarity of clean water, this is something that is made even harder in a hot and often drought stricken state such as a California. 

Knowing that the location the family have migrated from is in Texas, we could assume that they were fleeing the Dust Bowl and therefore clean water would’ve been seen as an incredible luxury. From the pickup truck that the family is driving it would be reasonable to assume that the family used to be farmers and therefore would be the most affected by the Depression and the Dust Bowl.

The fact that the photo shows three very young boys could be seen as showing them as "Perfect Victims" (a term coined by Lawrence Levine). This photo creates a sympathetic feeling from its audience. It gives the viewer a sense of the vast scale of the people affected by the Depression. As poverty was not new to the United States of America. It was seen as necessary to shock people by showing images of innocent children being affected by the catastrophe.

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