Advanced Essay #3: Living Outside Society

Introduction

The goal for my paper was to more closely explore some of the aspects I found interesting in Beasts of the Southern Wild; the fictional bayou community in which they live. I am proud of how I was able to analyze the relationship between this community and communities like it in the U.S. I wish I would have spent more time searching for a source that could have contributed to the sources I chose to write about.

Living Outside Society

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Carroll, BOTSW) is a 2012 movie starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry. The film focuses on a young Hushpuppy and her father; Wink, and their life in an almost shanty like Louisiana bayou community, known as the Bathtub. Throughout the film, Hushpuppy’s family and her fellow community members are subject to a massive flooding, legally requiring them to evacuate. However due to his pride for the Bathtub and distaste for the mainstream world, Wink decides to remain in the Bathtub with Hushpuppy and a handful of his peers. In the case of the Bathtub, this connection to one’s land appears to be dangerous, especially for someone who has no control of their safety- Hushpuppy. There are many places in America that share the mentality of those from ‘The Bathtub’; that they would rather operate in their own community than participate in the larger world or recieve ‘aid’ from larger systems.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film that focuses on a young Hushpuppy and her father; Wink and their life in the fictional Bayou community, known as ‘The Bathtub’. Hushpuppy lives alone with her father and together they rely on their own systems for food and resources, making Hushpuppy entirely reliant on her father. Wink seems to suffer from alcoholism, apparent due to his hospitalization at the start of the film and drinking throughout. “My daddy says if he gets too sick to drink beer and catch catfish, I should stick him in a boat and set it on fire so they don't plug him into the wall.”(Carroll, BOTSW). The concept of being plugged ‘into the wall’ is one delivered to Hushpuppy by her father, meaning forcefully being hospitalized or a forced reliance on hospital resources. I believe this concept applies to Hushpuppy’s unique community, but also to some of the more impoverished or isolated communities in the U.S.

$48 million of federal tax dollars was allocated to the Isle de Jean Charles (Davenport) in the recent wake of climate damage grants. This $48 million is intended to be used to relocate the entire Louisiana based tribe. For those like the people of the Isle de Jean Charles, their connection to their land is not only sentimental, but also religious. “We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.””(Davenport). This group exhibits one’s connection to their land that might exceed the significance that the characters in Beasts of the Southern Wild feel for their home. It may appear that the issues presented in Beasts of the Southern WIld and of the Biloxi Chitimacha-Choctaw are very different; A willing separation from mainstream society, and another example of native relocation, however their distinctions aid to a greater point. Although it doesn’t reflect my primary point, both groups were required by law to relocate, however The Bathtub is representative of people across the country who wish not to conform to the culture or living standards of others. Although historically native groups have had (many broken) treaties put in place to protect their rights and ownership to their land, does this make other isolated communities to their land insignificant?

Is a disregard for the communities and systems that surround govern your own problematic? To be clear, I am not saying this is what it means to be religiously connected to your land, but is this kind of pride for one’s land and distaste for the rest unreasonable in a non-religious context? I argue that it is not, and that there is a spectrum of what is reasonable in this context and what is not. In the context of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, relocation appears to be necessary in order to save lives, especially children who might not have control over whether they stay or leave a dangerous area. In other non-life threatening day to day situations, non religious groups should be entitled to the amount of civil exclusion experienced by hushpuppy and her father as long as it does not specifically conflict with general safety or law.  

Work Cited

Davenport, Coral, and Campbell Robertson. “Resettling the First American 'Climate Refugees'.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 May 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/us/resettling-the-first-american-climate-refugees.html.


“She survived hunger and homelessness. Then she had to figure out her identity.” Public Radio International, www.pri.org/stories/2015-12-08/she-survived-hunger-and-homelessness-then-she-had-figure-out-her-identity.


Carroll, Chris, et al. Beasts of the Southern Wild.


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