This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Courage In John Sayles’ Matewan And The Matewan Massacre

2280 words - 9 pages

Aristotle defined courage as “[fearlessness] in face of a noble death, and of all emergencies that involve death.” Mark Twain defined courage as “the mastery of fear, not the absence of it.” Both definitions stress the ability of an individual to overcome fear and to persevere through frightening and harrowing circumstances. While courage is generally viewed on an individual level, it can be applied to a group or the individual’s place within the collective group. Collectivism is any political, social, or economic system that places the group before the individual and stresses the importance of making decisions that benefit all people. In a collectivist system, power should be in the hands of the group and not the individuals with power. In conflict, “individuals [should] be willing to sacrifice personal interests for those of the group.” In John Sayles’ Matewan and the historical Matewan massacre, courage is seen in the sacrifices and risks taken by the coal miners and their supporters, while collectivism is seen in the way the Joe Kenehan figure led the group of coal miners and in the stereotypes placed on the groups of people.
Courage
The characters in John Sayles' Matewan exemplified courage when they stood up to the company and made personal sacrifices for the union. Few Clothes asks the men of the company what keeps the company from "jacking up the prices" on the goods that the miners were required to buy from the company. When Few Clothes asked this question, he challenged the authority of the Stone Mountain Coal Company, which was a dangerous thing to do and made himself a threat to the company. Joe Kenehan left the safety of his region to build up a union in the southern area of West Virginia. He soon became a threat to the Baldwin-Felts agents and the company because he was a union man. Sid Hatfield and Mayor Testerman displayed courage when they challenge the Baldwin’s eviction notice of a miner's home by claiming that the notice was not a legal document. Despite the guns carried by the Baldwin-Felt’s agents, Sid demanded that they put the family's possessions back into their house until a legal document was presented. Sid, “whose hatred of the mine bosses and their hired bully-boys,” and Mayor Testerman also confronted the agents as they prepared to leave town at the end of the movie and stood to fight when shooting began. Collectively, the union workers threw down their shovels and agreed with Kenehan when he exclaimed “Stone Mountain [do not] move one piece of coal, unless it’s a union man who moves it.” They could have easily been shot by the company’s gun thugs, but the miners “were prepared to die rather than betray their union.” Even when the miners lost their homes and were forced to live in tent cities, the miners and their supporters remained courageous. According to Fishbein, Bridey May and Elma “[continued] to support unionization, even at the risk of their own livelihood.” The company owned Elma’s bread and...

Find Another Essay On Courage in John Sayles’ Matewan and the Matewan Massacre

The Massacre of Captain John Gunnison and his Explorers in 1853

2674 words - 11 pages Two events took place in the mid-19th century in the United States that set the stage for a third which became an historic turning point in American history. The settlement of Mormons in Utah and their pursuit to establish their own government coupled with explorations to develop the transcontinental railroad laid the groundwork for the massacre of Captain John Gunnison and his explorers in 1853 which took eight lives. As massacres go, the loss

Was John Steinbeck successful in celebrating the honesty, courage, and dreams of ordinary people?

765 words - 3 pages John Steinbeck was, for the most part, successful in celebrating the honesty, courage, and dreams of ordinary people, even though I don't particularly agree with the honesty part. He shows the values of courage and dreams in his characters, but his characters aren't necessarily honest. In fact, a few of the key characters lied about a lot of things throughout the book. They may not be big things but they are lies nonetheless.Steinbeck was very

The Nanking Massacre. A Tragedy Forgotten - Sketch of Nanking Massacre. Discusses atrocities, propaganda, and the charitable deeds of John Rabe

1335 words - 5 pages government denies the occurrence of such an incident and marks it as a cloud of lies spun to mar its name. Without a confession by the government, the people, and the world soon, will forget. A mistake forgotten is likely to be recommitted. Let us learn a timeless lesson from this terrible tragedy, so that such a cataclysm may never again torment human lives. Let us honor the courage and bravery of those, like John Rabe, who dared to defy. Let us pity those lives extinguished and those shattered, and in turn, cherish our own years. Let us always remember.

Profiles In Courage By John F. Kennedy

1747 words - 7 pages The Pulitzer Prize-winning account of men of principle, integrity and bravery in American politics was here available in President John F. Kennedy's Profiles In Courage. Eight men who served the United States Government were selected by John F. Kennedy as models of virtue and courage under pressure.These eight men persevered in their pursuit of justice and the right path, in spite of the coercion and vilification of the majority. These heroes

The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in Fren

3142 words - 13 pages The Great Cat Massacre with out a doubt has one of the most unusual titles ever created especially for a book about history. Now this unusual title perhaps fits this book better than any other straight - forward title Mr. Darnton could have conjured. You see the text contained in the book isn't just your standardized, boring, and redundant view of history. Most historical text looks at history from a political standpoint, of which king did what

The Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico

538 words - 2 pages military. The Old Left, who had always advocated the ideals of the Revolution and socialism, were caught off guard by the influx of the new ideas of the right to demonstrate and individual liberty. The P.R.I.'s legitimacy in the eyes of the Mexican people was reduced dramatically by both the massacre and the subsequent cover-up attempts.The Tlatelolco massacre played an significant role in the development of Mexican political identity. Today

"Tomorrow when the war began" by John Marsden: Courage as a Central Message in the Text

842 words - 3 pages In the novel 'Tomorrow when the war began', courage is the central message. The WordWeb dictionary defines courage as 'a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger of pain without showing fear'. This is exactly what John Marsden, the author, tried to make clear in the novel. The novel is about 7 teenagers that were forced to live in the bush because of the invaders that took over their country. Each of the characters came to a difficult

Themes and Symbols in “The Red Badge of Courage”

2177 words - 9 pages “The Red Badge of Courage” was written by Stephen Crane in 1985 as a fictional tale of a soldier of the Civil War. With its accurate depictions, readers were led to believe that Crane had at one time been a soldier. This was however not the case. Crane has a unique way of using themes and symbols in “The Red badge of Courage” to relay a very realistic portrayal of war. “The Red Badge of Courage” is often referred to as being based off of

Symbols and Symbolism in Crane's The Red Badge of Courage

2109 words - 8 pages Characters as Symbols in Crane's The Red Badge of Courage   The Red Badge of Courage was a significant novel in the way that the characters were portrayed. Crane hardly ever used the actual names of the soldiers. He simply described them as the loud soldier, the tall soldier, the cheery soldier, and the tattered soldier. Crane made the characters stand out in the use of describing them and promoting their relationship with Henry and

The Nankin Massacre in China: Historically Forgotten

1578 words - 7 pages toll in the massacre. Typical death toll estimates range anywhere from 40,000 to 300,000. The incident continues to be a contentious and controversial political issue. Japanese nationalist and historical revisionists claim that the massacre has either been exaggerated or entirely fabricated for propaganda purposes. Due to the nationalists’ efforts to deny or justify the war crimes, the debate surrounding the massacre remains an obstacle in Sino

What Really Happened in the Boston Massacre?

1119 words - 4 pages This chapter provided information from the trial of Captain Thomas Preston. The chapter asked the question, “What really happened in the Boston Massacre”. Chapter four focused on the overall event of the Massacre and trying to determine if Captain Preston had given the order to fire at Boston citizens. The chapter provides background information and evidence from Preston’s trial to leave the reader answering the question the chapter presents

Similar Essays

Matewan Directed By John Sayles Essay

559 words - 2 pages Matewan Directed by John Sayles John Sayles illustrates a feudalistic society in 1920 in his film, Matewan. Matewan is a mining town in West Virginia dominated by the Stone Mountain Cole Company. The company creates most of the labor opportunity in town, providing positions for unskilled laborers as miners. Sayles shows how the company acted as a feudalistic lord. The Stone Mountain Cole Company controlled housing, food, spending and debt

John Sayles' Matewan: Forming A Communist Society

805 words - 3 pages John Sayles' Matewan: Forming a Communist Society John Sayles' movie Matewan offers an alternative to the norm when thinking about the development of class and economic systems in the modern world. Upon first glance, it seems as though the coal miners in the town of Matewan were the subjects of a cruel feudal system, sentenced to spending their lives slaving away for a company who cared very little for them. A classic example of the type

Matewan And Norma Rae Essay

915 words - 4 pages Matewan and Norma Rae Theoretically, the characters of both Matewan, and Norma Rae take part in a capitalistic society. In both situations the people are partaking in a form of labor market, where they are selling their time and energy. However, the town of Matewan, governed by the Stone Mountain Coal Companies' monopoly on the land and businesses, and isolated by distance and limited technology, as fallen into a feudalistic condition

The Economic Structure Of Matewan Essay

1371 words - 5 pages The Economic Structure of Matewan The film Matewan, written and directed by John Sayles, depicts the small rural townof 1920's Mingo County, West Virginia as a society undergoing complete social unrest, a result of clashing ideals and economic systems. The film is an illustration of how different social systems come to be so intertwined that they cannot be defined independently of one another. Unfortunately for the people of Matewan