Describe the hardships that Americans faced during the Great Depression. Using historical evidence and examples from the film “Cinderella Man”.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story of James Braddock is heavily laden with hardships faced during the Depression.  In the opening scene, the Braddock family does not have much to eat, as economic stress has placed its grip on the family unit.  When their child asks for more food, Jimmy concocts a story how in his dream he had a huge steak with George Raft and other Hollywood celebrities and "was stuffed."  At the same time, Mae, Braddock's wife, has to dilute the milk with water in order to maximize its use.  There are other realities conveyed through the film, as well.  When Braddock lines up at the docks for work, the foreman asks for "five" or needs "ten" workers out of a field of hundreds who clamor at the gate for a shot at a day's work.  While working on the dock one day, Mike, a friend of Jimmy, notices his broken hand while working and tells him in a heartbreaking manner, "I need this job, man."  Finally, when Jimmy's son talks of friends being sent away because of financial hardship, James looks at his son, dead on, and says that he is not sending his child away.  Probably the best and most telling aspect of the life of the Great Depression would be when Braddock agrees to fighting Max Baer, Heavyweight champion of the world.  When explaining why he feels no fear, Braddock argues that when working people have to struggle and, in cases like Mike's, die for work, for money, for a job, little else can be feared as Jimmy argues working on the docks is far worse than anything Baer can throw at him.

mkcapen1 | Student

In looking at the Great Depression from the stand point of the movie "Cinderella Man,"  we see a young man with a family who is laid off and can not find work.  He needs to feed his family so he boxes.  He is promoted rapidly but the less money people have the less they can pay for entertainment.  The family has to move in with relatives to survive.  The man's manager presents like he still has money, but his apartment is almost stripped of everything.  He too has suffered a reduced income from the job losses.

The depression in the United States led to the fall of the stock market.  Many wealthy people lost everything.  They had difficulty coping and committed suicide.  Families bunched up and lived together to try and make ends meet.  Job corners became popular.  A company or farmer would have a corner in town where they would go to and offer men work.  They could pick and choose and many people did not get picked.  If they did, they worked hard and hoped to be re-picked the next day.