Story: This is the story of Irish immigrants to America in the late 1800s, who struggle with hunger, hatred, prejudice and “just plain hard work” to start a new life. How do you define success? In this movie, the daughter of a wealthy landlord left a big house and privileged life to become an immigrant; the son of a poor tenant farmer found success as a boxer—for a while! Like the people in this film, we often discover that true success turns out to be something quite different than what we originally thought. (1992; Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Dir Ron Howard; Imagine Films; Boxing, Romance, Drama, US History; PG-13; 130 min)
Setting: Ireland and America – 1890’s
People and proper nouns:
- Joseph Donelly – the youngest son of an Irish tenant farmer; one of three brothers (Paddy & Colm) (actor: Tom Cruise)
- Mr. Daniel Christie – the landlord for Joseph, his family, and most of his neighbors
- Shannon Christie – Mr. Christie’s daughter, who thinks of her family’s status as a prison (she wasn’t happy with the limited roles allowed to women at the time, either)
- Mr. Stephen Chase – Mr. Christie’s property manager, who wants to marry Shannon
- Mike Kelly – The “ward boss” in Boston, who ran the “social club” for Irish people
Vocabulary:(underlined words are vocabulary terms; *key terms) [click here for common English abbreviations] Brown terms are in part 1; green terms are part 2.
- acre: a unit for measuring land equal to 4840 square yards (4047 square meters) [see “Historical Facts” below]
- avenge: to do something to punish someone because that person harmed you (or a family member)
- *bread and butter: [idiom] livelihood; one’s work and salary (“Boxing, not plucking chickens, is my bread and butter.” “No, Mike Kelly is your bread and butter, you snob.”)
- a broke horse: a tame horse; a horse that has been trained so that people can ride it
- buckboard and harness: a wagon, and a leather thing worn by the horse pulling this wagon (Joseph says a used buckboard would cost $25, and that they needed several things for the horse, including a harness, bit, frame, collar, and reins)
- burglars: thieves; people who steal from others
- collar: the part of a shirt closest to your neck; a buttoned collar is considered formal (e.g., when you are wearing a necktie), esp. in old-fashioned clothes (“Button that collar, Shannon! Better to choke than be vulgar.”)
- a corker: [rare, at least in AmE] something extraordinary
- *to cross sb or be cross with sb: to make sb angry (“If you cross me, I’ll kill you.” “Are you cross with me, Shannon?”)
- *eviction (to evict): when a tenant (see tenant farmer) is removed through a legal process from an apartment (or land) by the landlord. A family is usually evicted after several warnings, because they do not pay rent or other debts owed to the landlord. (“You have been warned thrice [three times] so your family is hereby evicted from our land.”)
- *immigrant: someone who leaves his home country to settle and become a citizen in a new country
- knickers: [old-fashioned term, not used anymore] women’s underwear or panties
- *landlord: the owner of the land and everything on the land (buildings, etc.). In this film, the landlord had inherited the land from his father; he allows others to live on and grow things on his land for payment.
- mick: [now rare in AmE] an insulting term, meaning “stupid Irish man”
- *miracle: something very good that you did not expect to happen or did not think was possible, but it happened anyway (esp. when God does such a thing)
- *pickings are slim (or slim pickings): [idiom] none of what is available is very good; whatever you choose, it won’t bring much profit/good
- *property manager: someone the land-owner puts in charge of handling his property and business affairs. This includes settling disputes and collecting rent from tenants. In this film, Mr. Chase represents the landlord in managing the property, often acting harshly without the landlord knowing about it.
- *sarcastic (sarcasm): saying things that are the opposite of what you mean, in order to make a joke or to show that you are annoyed
- to shag: [now rare in AmE] to have sex with
- *snob: someone who thinks he is better than or smarter than others
- to stab: to push a knife (or sth equally sharp) into sth or sb
- a stake (to stake): a pointed piece of wood, pushed into the ground to mark something (or the action of pushing such a stake into the ground, esp. to claim a piece of land)
- *stuffy: a room without fresh air, or people/places that are not “fresh” (modern or casual) enough
- tenant farmer: a common farmer who rents his land (i.e., does not own any property). He must pay rent to the land owner (landlord), whether or not the land produced a good harvest of food. Some tenant farmers lived on the same land for generations, but high rent and other debts made the family little more than slaves.
- tramp: [negative term; now rare in AmE] a homeless beggar, or a woman with many sexual partners
- *undefeated: never been beaten; to have won every fight/contest so far
- *ward boss: the recognized leader of a “ward”; US cities are divided into “wards” (or districts) so that the people can elect local representatives (a “ward” is also a section of a hospital)
More detailed introduction:
(underlined words are vocabulary terms)
In the late 1800’s, landlords own most of the land in Ireland. Tenant farmers are allowed to live and work the land, but must pay rent to the landlord. Because the land has been overworked, and because of poor weather, crops (i.e., food) are hard to grow. Greedy (or ignorant?) landlords are evicting farmers because they can not pay the rent.
Since the 1830’s, many Irish people have been moving to America in hopes of finding a better life. They speak English (with an accent), but prejudice makes it hard to find decent work and living conditions. The discrimination comes because there are so many of them, and because of cultural prejudice (the British and the Irish had been fighting for generations).
After an accident (caused by a landlord) kills Joseph’s father, and then Mr. Chase burns down their home, Joseph Donelly seeks to avenge his father’s death by killing his landlord. He fails to kill the landlord, and instead ends up in a dual (gun battle) with Mr. Chase.
Mr. Christie’s daughter, Shannon, is unhappy with her “high society” life in Ireland. She wants to go to America to find “freedom” away from her parents and Mr. Chase. However, she needs a “body guard” during the ocean crossing. At the last minute, she rescues Joseph from his dual and they go to America together. When they arrive in Boston, Shannon’s money is stolen, so she is left in a new country without any way to live. To keep Boston’s “Irish Catholics” from killing Shannon (an “Irish Protestant” and “enemy” because her father was a hated landlord), Joseph says she is his sister. Next, they share a rented room for several months, trying to save enough money to move west.
Life was hard for new immigrants. Immigrants who had been in the US longer (e.g., “Mike” the ward boss) took advantage of this, helping to give new people jobs and a place to live, often in exchange for votes (political power) or money from those who profited from cheap immigrant labor. (You will also hear/see Mike asking for votes while complaining about “the Italians who are taking Irish jobs” in America.) Conditions were poor, but many immigrants had no other choice. Joseph and Shannon get a job “plucking chickens” for less than $4 per month.
Mike’s “social club” (bar) offers entertainment in the form of alcohol, women and boxing (fighting). When Joseph decides to box, he earns $4 his first night. He then becomes relatively rich as a fighter, until he loses an important fight (in part, trying to protect Shannon). Mike and an important politician bet on Joseph to win, so they lose a lot of money when Joseph loses the fight, and then they evict Joseph and Shannon. After wandering without food for several days, Shannon is shot while they run away from a house they had broken into.
Meanwhile in Ireland, the Christie’s home had been burned by unhappy tenant farmers, so they move to America to find Shannon. Stephen Chase is with them. When Shannon gets shot, Joseph takes Shannon to the American house her parents were staying in.
Like many Irishmen (and Chinese people—who were also discriminated against), Joseph then finds a job working for the railroad. He tries to forget about Shannon and his dream of getting some of Oklahoma’s “free land.” However, one night he dreams about his father and decides to continue the journey to Oklahoma. Shannon, her parents, and Stephen Chase also go to Oklahoma to run in the land race (see below).
At the end of this film you see one of the Oklahoma land rushes (there were five, I believe). This really did happen. In each “land rush” (or race), part of the Oklahoma Territory was opened to new settlements (primarily for white people; the US Government had purchased it, more or less, from American Indians). Whoever replaced the government’s flag with their own stake got the land—totally free. But this type of “free land race” was not (to my knowledge) repeated elsewhere. Most of “the west” was sold, piece by piece to settlers, by the US government (who bought it or won it in wars with Indians, the French, Spain, or whoever claimed to own it).
Far and Away shows the race that took place on September 16, 1893. Net sources/statistics are inconsistent, but this was apparently the biggest land rush, in which more than 100,000 settlers “raced” to claim part of the 6.5 million available acres (cut into 42,000 parcels of 160 acres each—see below). Once the 42,000 parcels were claimed, tens of thousands of other participants were disappointed. Some bought land from the winners, while others simply left empty-handed.
The first race started at noon on April 22, 1889 (the day after Easter). A seemingly reliable website (from Homestead Congress) says that only 11,000 parcels of land were available that day. Other sites say that 50,000 to 100,000 settlers were competing for those parcels, and that the majority of claims went to “sooners” (like the Christies in this film) who violated the law, entering “sooner” than allowed.
How big was each piece of “free land”? If I understand the math correctly, 160 acres is a plot of land that, if square, measures about 804.7 meters on each side (or 880 yards, 0.8 km, 0.5 miles). For comparison, a soccer field is about 108 meters by 67 meters, making the “free land” about the size of 7.5 soccer fields. An acre is about 4840 square yards or 4047 square meters. A mile is 1760 yards or 1609 meters. A kilometer/kilometre is 1000 meters. To compare km with miles for longer distances, remember that 60 miles is about 100 km.
Interesting link: Someone who found my webpage about Far and Away sent this link to interesting information about immigration to the US, past and present (with links to lots more information). Check it out! www.uscitizenship.info
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ advertisement ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sentences/dialogs from the movie:(some are from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104231/quotes) blue indicates a key dialog or sentence) (underlined words are vocabulary terms)
- 1. [Joseph’s drunken older brothers, Colm and Paddy, are insulting him because he works too hard “on the landlord’s land”; they are trying to start a fight, for amusement.]
- Joseph: My ambition’s a little grander than yours. A couple of lazy cows.
- Paddy: Oh, ambition, is it? To break your back on land that isn’t your own—that belongs to the landlord Christie.
- Colm: Hold your face up, lad. Give us something we can aim at. Now, come on, Joseph honey. Just a nosebleed’s all we’re asking.
- Joseph: I have no wish to fight you. [and then he hits Colm very hard]
- [Danty Duff brings in their dying father—see the detailed introduction]
- Joseph: How are you feeling now, Da?
- Dad: My soul is departing from me, Joseph.
- Joseph: Don’t you talk that way.
- Dad: I’ll talk any way I please. I’m dying, I tell you!
- Joseph: Well, you can’t die. We need you here, Da.
- Dad: Need me? What for? [He starts singing] Her beautiful eyes were a terrible curse… [Then dies]
- Duff: God rest your soul. Poor Joe Donelly.
- Paddy [to Colm]: We’d be as well to sell off a thing or two, now that the old man’s gone.
- Joseph: Is that any way to keen (mourn) over the death of our father?
- Paddy: Misery’s a personal matter, Joseph. We don’t need any instruction, thanks.
- Colm: Sure, he’s left us with a huge debt of rent on the land.
- Joseph: We’ll begin to settle our debt when we harvest the land.
- Colm: Grow the potatoes and pick them yourself, Joseph, you ambitious boy!
- Joseph: You son of a—
- Dad [suddenly coming back from the dead, and grabbing his son]: Joseph!
- Joseph: Jesus and the saints preserve us! We thought you died, Da.
- Dad: I did son, I passed away.
- Joseph: But you’re talking to us, Da. And your eyes—they’re looking about.
- Dad: I was as dead as a stone, I tell you. Now shut your mouth before I die again. Come here! I’ve come back to tell you something. [Joseph comes close.] You’re an especially odd boy.
- Joseph: You came back from the dead to tell me that I’m odd?
- Dad: You have all kinds of oddities, clattering around in your brain. So had I when I was as young as you. But dreams, my boy, in this poor corner of the world, end up in a glass of ale (beer).
- Joseph: No. Not my dreams, Da. I’ll work my own land someday.
- Dad: Without land, a man is nothing. That’s it. Yeah. Land is a man’s very own soul. A miracle—that’s what you’re looking for. And by God, if you manage it, your old Da will be smiling down on you from heaven above. [He starts singing again] Her beautiful eyes were a terrible… [Then dies again]
- Duff: God rest your soul, Joe Donelly, for the second time.
- 2. [Joseph wants to kill his landlord (for killing his father), and ends up in the landlord’s barn, waiting for morning. Shannon finds him there. She has a pitchfork in her hand.]
- Shannon: Stop right where you are! Don’t flutter an eyelid or I’ll stab you! I’ll stab you through! [She yells for help, and then stabs him in the leg. He staggers out.]
- Joseph: Mr. Daniel Christie! I am Joseph Donelly, of the family Donelly that you pushed off our land.
- Daniel: What in the name of God are you talking about?
- Joseph: Prepare to pay for your crimes. [Joseph’s rusty gun misfires and knocks him unconscious, but not before he can say the “rebellion code”:] Captain Moonlight!
- 3. [It is clear that Shannon hates the “civilized” lifestyle that her mother expects—like “Rose” in the movie Titanic. She sees Joseph trip Stephen, put his foot on his neck, and then spit in his face, which took a lot of guts (bravery). Then Stephen challenged Joseph to a pistol (gun) duel at dawn. During the night, Shannon comes in through Joseph’s window to steal some silver spoons, and to try to persuade Joseph to “run away” to America with her.]
- Shannon: Perhaps you are wondering why I’m running away. I’m running away because I’m modern, and I’m going to a modern place. You’re not the only one who’s trapped. If I stay here, my mother will turn me into one of her stuffy old friends. No, thank you. I’m a little more interesting than that. I’m very smart, and I’m very modern. That’s all you need to know about me. Boy! Here, have a look at this… Oh. You can’t read, can you? How pathetic. “Land,” it says.
- Joseph: Land?
- Shannon: “Wanted: strong, healthy men and women. Every resident of the United States is entitled to 160 acres of land.” They’ve got so much of it, they give it away for free.
- Joseph: No land is given away, in any part of the world.
- Shannon: In America it is, and I’m going there. I’m going to have a place of my own. And I will have horses on it, and I will raise them, and I will ride them any way I please.
- Joseph: What do you need more land for? You own half of Ireland as it is! You took it—your people did!
- Shannon: I didn’t take it.
- Joseph: You just live here all fancied up on rent and broken backs.
- Shannon: Boy, you said you wanted land. If that’s what you want, then come with me. Great ships sail out of Dublin and Liverpool. But a woman dare not travel alone. No. You’re brave. You shoot men. You step on their necks. When I saw that, I realized you could be very useful to me.
- Joseph: Useful, could I?
- Shannon: Yes! You could be my serving boy! [Joseph feels insulted and strongly refuses.] I’ll pay you three pence a day.
- Joseph: Get out! I’ve got an appointment in the morning, and I’m going to honor it.
- Shannon: Ha! You’ll never win this duel with Steven. We’ve all seen you handle a gun. Boy, I am giving you your freedom!
- Joseph: I’m not going to a distant world. I’m of Ireland, and I’ll stay in Ireland until I die!
- Shannon: That’s in about five hours.
- 4. [On the ship, they are talking to an American, Mr. McGuire, who turns out to be a thief.]
- Joseph: This girl’s got it in her head that they’re giving land away [in America] for free.
- Mr McGuire: That’s true. Oklahoma territory. The west is opening up.
- Shannon: I told you, boy.
- Joseph: [It] Can’t be good land.
- Mr McGuire: It’s the finest in the world. Seeds flourish in it. Cattle that grow upon it are fat as elephants.
- Shannon: Well, how do you get it, Mr. McGuire? Is it there when you step off the boat?
- Mr McGuire: No, you have to travel 1000 miles (1700 km) or so. Then when you get there you have to run for land in a race. Don’t lose time in Boston. As soon as you can, purchase horses, a wagon and supplies. [Shannon looks worried.] Have I upset you?
- Shannon: Well, I didn’t expect it to be so complicated.
- Mr McGuire: Oh, we’re very fortunate. Any difficulty can be overcome with money.
- Shannon [after sending Joseph away]: Mr. McGuire, I do have money, but it is in the form of spoons. Ancient spoons made of silver. I’d planned to sell them when I arrived in Boston.
- Mr McGuire: Well, I can recommend a couple of shops that will treat you honestly.
- Shannon: I’m very much obliged to you, sir.
- Mr McGuire: [The] Pleasure’s mine.
- Shannon: Thank you.
- Shannon [to Joseph, when she gets back to her table]: May I ask, what are you doing, sitting at my table?
- Joseph: I’m eating your chocolate cake.
- Shannon: And what have you done with my father’s necktie?
- Joseph: I flung it into the sea. It was gagging my throat.
Discussion (Part 1)
- Tell your partner why Shannon wanted to go to America, and explain why Joseph wanted to kill his landlord.
- What do you think made Joseph change his mind, and go to America with Shannon?
- Talk about Mr. Chase. When he burned the Donelly home, he was “just doing his job” after the Donelly family didn’t pay their rent. He was faithful to his employer. He seemed to love Shannon—or did he? Was he brave or arrogant—and what is the difference? If you had been in his shoes, what would you have done differently?
- Did Joseph’s father die once or twice? Do you think (or hope?) it is possible to die and then come back to life? Explain.
- Perhaps you’ve heard people say that they have been “born again.” What do you think they mean?
- If you still have time, read and discuss this passage from the Bible. What do you think it means? Is this advice easy to follow? Explain. [“to fret” means to worry, esp when there is no need to worry]
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
(Ps 37:7-8, English Standard Version of the Bible)
Sentences/dialogs from the movie: (Part 2)
- 5. [On their first day in America, Shannon is upset because she has “lost everything,” but Joseph is starting to like the USA.]
- Joseph: I think I like America. We’ve only been here a day. Look at the welcome we’ve got. ‘Would you like a room? Here you go. Would you like a job? Why, here you go. How about some land? Well, get a horse, and help yourself.’
- Shannon: So, now you believe me about the land, do you?
- Joseph: If they’re throwing it away, I wouldn’t mind a piece of it. Maybe this is my destiny. On his death bed, my father told me he’d be watching me from up above. I wonder now if his spirit might be near, guiding me along.
- Shannon: If he bumps into Mr. McGuire up there, tell him I want my spoons back.
- [Mr. McGuire had stolen her silver spoons, and thus stolen all of her money.]
- 6. Coniff: I think the prettiest girl in this factory, the one with the prettiest eyes, and the prettiest red hair, is Joseph’s sister – if you don’t mind me saying so Joseph.
- Joseph: Well, you can say what you like lad. But I warn you, that redhead has a bite that stings.
- Flynn [the foreman at the chicken factory, talking to Shannon]: Get to work!
- Shannon: Get your filthy hands off me, you ugly animal!
- Flynn: That’ll cost you a day’s wage. Go ahead. Insult me again. [he spits]
- Shannon [weakly]: Pig. [the women in the factory laugh]
- Flynn: There goes tomorrow. Are you Done?
- Shannon [looks over to Joseph, who gestures “No! Work!”; she returns to work, but spins around]: Take Friday as well, you spineless little fraction of a man.
- Joseph [as everyone laughs]: Bite, lads. Bite.
- 7. [After several weeks of work, they are discussing the trip west, how much it will cost, how little money they have saved, etc. At this point, they are both convinced that they don’t need or want each other. Shannon says she can do it alone.]
- Joseph: You’re a corker, Shannon. What a corker you are.
- [They get dressed for bed, and Shannon makes a fuss about maintaining her decency/privacy in this room they are forced to share as “brother and sister.” After saying goodnight…]
- Shannon: Joseph?
- Joseph: What?
- Shannon: Am I beautiful at all?
- Joseph: I’ve never seen anything like you in all of my living life.
- Shannon: Good. [She rolls over and goes to sleep.]
- 8. D’Arcy Bourke [“a powerful man in Boston,” is talking to other men, while making arrangements for Joseph to fight an “Italian champion.” When Bourke sees Shannon walk by, he compares her to a delicious fruit dessert]: Now that’s a long-legged piece of strawberry tart!
- [Joseph gets angry, and while agreeing to fight the Italian, he also acts like he doesn’t need the ward boss any more.]
- Mike Kelly [the ward boss]: Do you like your suit? Do you like having a roof over your head? I’m your bread and butter, lad. Cross me, and you’re nothing–nothing but an ignorant mick. You do what you’re told or I’ll throw you out in the street, and every door you’ll knock on will be slammed in your face. Do you understand?
- 9. [Grace calls for Joseph; he looks out the window and they agree to go to church together the next morning. Shannon is jealous of the attention (and money) Joseph is getting as a boxer.]
- Shannon: She’s got an awfully large chest to be going to church.
- Joseph: Shannon, all chests are equal in the eyes of the Lord.
- Shannon: If she goes into the confession box [to tell the priest that she is sorry for her sins], she’ll never come out, the little tramp.
- Joseph: Grace isn’t a tramp. She’s a dancer in the Burley-cue.
- Shannon: That isn’t dancing. That’s kicking her knickers up. I suspect if you asked her to, she’d kick her knickers off.
- Joseph: Oh, maybe she would.
- Shannon: Has she?
- Joseph: Let me see… I’m trying to remember.
- Shannon: Well, think hard! If there’s any brain left in your head! Look at you. They’re making a fool of you, the ward boss and his friends.
- Joseph: They respect me.
- Shannon: They do not! They don’t respect you. You’re money in their pockets, and nothing more, Joseph.
- Joseph: That’s enough, Shannon. [angry, he throws her into a bathtub] Tell me! Tell me you like my hat!
- Shannon: You’re not wearing a hat.
- Joseph [yelling]: Say it! Say you like my hat!
- Shannon: You’re not wearing a hat!
- [They fight and Shannon locks Joseph out of their shared room. The “dancers” in the hall are watching, and Molly (who runs this boarding house/brothel) says…]
- Molly Kay: Oh, why don’t you shag her and get it over with?
- Joseph: She’s… my sister!
- Molly Kay [sarcastically]: And I’m your mother. [all the ladies laugh]
Part 2 ends at 1:29:48 after “her family is in Jefferson Court” and a close-up of Stephen.
Discussion (Part 2)
- Look at Dialog 5. What does Joseph mean by “this is my destiny”? Do you believe in “destiny”? Explain
- Do you think the “spirit of our ancestors” can somehow affect our lives? Is “heaven looking down on us”, and if so, how should that affect the way we live, how we treat others, decisions about “right and wrong,” etc.?
- In part two, the Christies and Mr. Chase also went to America. Tell your partner why.
- Talk about Mike, the ward boss, and his “social club.” How was he “good” and how was he “bad”?
- Make a list of the “accidents” that you’ve seen so far in this story. Then discuss the affect or impact of each accident.
Sentences/dialogs from the movie: (Part 3)
- 10. [Joseph loses the fight—see the detailed introduction—and gets kicked out of his home. They can’t find work, and haven’t eaten in days. Finally, they break into a house in a rich neighborhood, and Joseph starts to eat like an animal. Shannon confronts him, and he stops.]
- Joseph: Shannon, sit down at this beautiful table.
- Shannon: No. We can’t. We’re burglars.
- Joseph: Please. I want you to pretend. Sit down. I’ll serve you. Tonight I want you to dine.
- Shannon: No, Joseph. Don’t serve me. Just sit down with me. Let’s pretend that this house is ours, that you’re my husband and I’m your wife. Sit down. Did you ever wonder what that land you dreamed of looked like? Mine was a green pasture with tall grass, that rolled just a little bit.
- Joseph: Mine had a stream running through it. Perhaps some trees. Rich, dark soil. No rocks to pick out of the ground.
- Shannon: Green pasture and a stream. They would complement each other, no?
- Joseph: They would. The one, in fact, depends upon the other.
- Shannon: Pretend you love me.
- Joseph: I’ll pretend I love you.
- Shannon: I’ll pretend I love you, too.
- 11. Officer [to a crowd outside the “Oklahoma land office” where people register and get a stake]: Folks, each quarter section is marked. You run for land, remove the marker and drive in your own stake. The race begins tomorrow at noon….
- Joseph: Where can I get a horse?
- Seller: Well, you’re a little late, cowboy. Pickins are slim. Now, this here horse is broke. That horse there, green broke. [Do you] Know the difference? A broke horse is a dependable horse. A green broke horse—he’s faster.
- Joseph: That sounds good. The faster the better.
- Seller: No telling what he’ll do, though. Hell, you could end up in Canada on that green broke son of a bitch. [The green broke horse starts kicking its legs into the air.]
- Joseph: I think I’ll take the dependable horse.
- Seller: I would.
- [As Joseph walks away, he is surprised to see Shannon walking by.]
- Joseph: I’m cursed. Oh Lord, I’m cursed.
- 12. Joseph [while talking to Shannon before the race, which they will not be running together]: Shannon Christie! You never gave up. You knew what you wanted, back in Ireland, and look at you. Here you are. You’re a corker, Shannon. What a corker you are.
- 13. Joseph [upon finding his horse dead, still tied to the hitching post]: Sweet Mary and Jesus, and all the saints preserve us.
- Old Man: That there was the oldest horse I ever saw in my life.
- —If you want to be surprised by the end of the movie, stop reading here!—
- 14. [Joseph and Steven fight, and Steven’s horse falls on Joseph; then Shannon rushes to help Joseph.]
- Joseph: I feel myself dying.
- Shannon: No, you stay looking at my eyes. Look at my eyes, Joseph. You’re not dying. Look, you’ve got your land.
- Joseph: But all the land in the world means nothing to me without you. I tried to prove myself to you, but I know nothing of books, alphabets, or sun, or moon, or…. All I know is Joseph loves Shannon. That’s all that matters to me. [His concentration fails and he dies.]
- Shannon: No! Joseph. Please, don’t leave me alone. Joseph, no! Please, God in heaven, please. Joseph, don’t leave me. This was our dream together. I don’t want this without you! I loved you. I loved you from the first time I saw you.
- Joseph [coming back to life]: I’ve often wondered about that.
- Shannon [surprised]: Joseph! You died!
- Joseph: Aye. But you could be sure I won’t be dying twice.
Discussion (Part 3)
- Should people be allowed to own land, or should it belong to the government (or to the “native” people who lived there centuries ago, or to wealthy landlords, or someone else)? Explain your opinion.
- How did Mr. & Mrs. Christie get their land in Ireland, and then their land in America? What did you think of their actions at the end of the film?
- How do you define success? Who was successful in this story? Explain.
- Our feelings (and the movie writers) make us think that Shannon made the right choice (Stephen vs Joseph), but did she? If you were her parents, what would you think? The man says: “I love you. That’s all that matters to me.” Is that a good enough reason to get married? Explain.
- Did Joseph die when the horse fell on him? What happened next? What do you think will happen to you after you die? Is there any way for us to know about these things for certain? Explain your answers.
- If you had won a plot of land (half-mile on each side), what would you have done with it? Possible answers: grow food, raise cows, start a small town, dig for oil or minerals, build a factory, build several houses for relatives…. Explain your choice.
- If you want more things to talk about in English, tell your partner about each of these things from the film: silver spoons, accidents, a thief, the ward boss, discrimination, dreams, dancing, boxing, chickens, guns, the railroad.
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