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Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie Essay


Introduction

The targeted film for this analysis is “How Green Was My Valley”. This film was produced in the year 1941 and was directed by John Ford. The film gives a detailed analysis of the issues and challenges experienced by many mine workers throughout the 19th century. According to the film, the workers faced numerous challenges and obstacles. Such problems affected their lifestyles thus being unable to realize their potentials. As well, they continued to encounter various workplace issues such as low wages and poor conditions. These problems forced the workers to form a new union.

The film also explores the upwards mobility of Angharad Morgan. The movie explains how Morgan’s daughter married the mine-owner’s son. The marriage transformed and changed Angharad Morgan’s social class. However, the film shows clearly that the marriage was loveless. The concepts learned in class will therefore be applied in the film in order to put the concept of upward mobility into perspective. The targeted issues will include social class, gender, achievement, ascription, intra-generational mobility, and status attainment.

Summary of the Film

The film “How Green Was My Valley” narrates the story of Gwilym Morgan’s family. According to the movie, the family is living in South Wales Valley. South Wales’ environment has been destroyed through continued pollution and overexploitation of different natural resources. Most of Morgan’s sons are working in the coalmines. The sons include Davy, Gwilym Junior, Ivor, Huw, and Ianto. Huw is the last born among these brothers. He is also the only one who does not work in the mines. The movie shows clearly that the town was beautiful during Huw’s childhood. However, the increased level of mining had destroyed and blacked every village in the region.

The mine owner decides to lower the wages paid to the workers. This move forces the workers to protest. The workers also threaten to kill Huw’s father for not supporting the organized protest. Huw injures his leg while trying to rescue his mother from the river. Mr. Gruffydd helps Huw throughout his recovery process. This situation gives Mr. Gruffydd the opportunity to befriend Angharad. As well, the purpose of the strike was to fight for better wages.

Although the mine-owner decides to address the issue, majority of the workers lose their jobs and eventually become poorer. During the same period, Evans (the mine-owner’s son) courts Angharad despite the fact that her heart belongs to Mr. Gruffydd. She later decides to submit to the new loveless life. They couple eventually travel to a different country. Huw joins school and eventually becomes a boxer. Towards the end of the film, Gwilym dies after a mine disaster. Huw believes strongly that his father’s memory will always be fresh in his mind.

The Concepts

The concepts learned in this class can be used to understand and analyze the major issues affecting many people in the society. Such concepts and terms can be used to understand most of the issues experienced in the film “How Green Was My Valley”. The first concept is intra-generational mobility. Human beings focus on the best opportunities that can transform their lifestyles. This fact explains why the social status and worth of a person changes throughout his or her lifespan. The term intra-generational mobility refers to the changes associated with a person’s social mobility1. This kind of mobility will always take place throughout his or her life.

The second powerful concept is Status Attainment. The Status Attainment Model explains how a person’s achievement in a given society is mobile. According to different experts, status attainment can occur upwardly or downwardly. This shift is determined by different factors such as education, gender, career, and income. According to this model, inequality arises from certain differences such as academic achievements, values, sources of motivation, occupation of parents, and mental abilities. Some factors such as ethnicity, gender, career, and race have also been observed to determine an individual’s ability to compete for higher a better status in the society.

The ascription vs. achievement framework is used to describe the status of a person in a specific cultural group. Achievement explains how individuals are judged depending on their records and accomplishments in life2. On the other hand, ascription focuses on a situation whereby an individual’s social status is achieved through kinship, age, education, or birth. This model explains why various roles are assigned to specific genders, groups, or individuals from various cultural backgrounds.

As well, some roles might be given to competent persons who have the potential to achieve the best results. The term social class refers to a specific division, age-set, or group in the society. Such groups are usually identified using a number of attributes such as economic wellbeing and racial background. Gender is a sociological term used to analyze various characteristics associated with femininity and masculinity. Specific issues such as discrimination, gender inequality, and upward mobility continue to affect the lives of many citizens3.

Applying the Concepts to the Film “How Green Was My Valley”

The concepts studied in class can be used to explore most of the issues and challenges affecting many people in the film. Individuals, families, and communities embrace the best actions in order to improve their lifestyles. The practice can make it easier for such individuals to achieve new statuses in their respective societies. This analysis gives a detailed understanding of social mobility. According to sociologists, social mobility is the movement of households, communities, groups, or individuals within the ranks of the Open Stratification System (OSS). More often than not, many societies attribute some value or honor to every new social status. The events observed in this film describe how individuals embrace specific practices in order to achieve their social goals. For instance, Davy, Gwilym Junior, Ivor, and Ianto work hard in an attempt to transform their lives. Their father also works in a coalmine in order to support his family.

According to the Status Attainment Model, people’s achievements in a given society will always be mobile4. The film describes how Morgan’s family encounters numerous challenges and problems. The challenges faced by this family also portray the issues that affected the entire community. The wave of capitalism forced the mine-owner to look for cheap labor. This process led to a new form of slavery. The workers in the mines faced numerous challenges and eventually became poorer. Huw’s father eventually died after a mine disaster. As well, Huw injured himself while trying to rescue his mother. This story describes how upward mobility takes place in this society. Inequality also emerges from certain differences such as gender and skills. This kind of inequality also affects the experiences and outcomes of many individuals in the community such as Huw’s mother.

Gender role is also observed to play a significant role in the film. It is notable that women should be housewives while men should work in the coalmines. This situation affects the welfare of many women. As well, majority of the men lose their jobs or lives. Such developments describe the social mobility that arises from industrialization. The formation of a union can be described as a powerful effort embraced by different workers in to achieve their potentials. However, the effort fails to deliver the best results. The film shows how the peoples’ living conditions change within a very period. Some people also lose their lives while fighting hard to have better social positions.

The concept of the intra-generational mobility is also evident in the film. This aspect of upward mobility shows how a person’s social mobility changes from one period to another5. For example, Angharad’s social status changes significantly after marrying Evans. Angharad’s status improves thus making it easier for her to focus on new issues. Angharad’s decision to marry Evans supports her upwards mobility in the society. The ascription vs. achievement framework can also be used to describe the events presented in this film. Evans and his father are successful people. Evans’ social status has been achieved through birth. On the other hand, Huw’s status depends mostly on his accomplishments in life. For instance, he joins school in order to have a better life.

In conclusion, the developments and events described in this film explain how upward mobility takes place in every community. The losses and achievements observed in the movie show how the social position of a person changes from one period to another. The position can move in an upward or downward direction.

Footnotes

  1. Intra-generational and Ascription-Achievement lecture, October 15th. UCR Sociology 133, Fall 2015.
  2. Intra-generational and Ascription-Achievement lecture, October 15th. UCR Sociology 133, Fall 2015.
  3. Gender Inequality, October 15th. UCR Sociology 133, Fall 2015.
  4. Status Attainment lecture, October 15th. UCR Sociology 133, Fall 2015.
  5. Intra-generational and Ascription-Achievement lecture, October 15th. UCR Sociology 133, Fall 2015.
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IvyPanda. (2020, June 6). Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-inequality-in-how-green-was-my-valley-movie/

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"Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie." IvyPanda, 6 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/social-inequality-in-how-green-was-my-valley-movie/.

1. IvyPanda. "Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie." June 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-inequality-in-how-green-was-my-valley-movie/.


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IvyPanda. "Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie." June 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-inequality-in-how-green-was-my-valley-movie/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie." June 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-inequality-in-how-green-was-my-valley-movie/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Social Inequality in How Green Was My Valley Movie'. 6 June.

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