The Immigrant By James Gray Essay

The Immigrant By James Gray Essay

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The Immigrant, directed by James Gray, opened my eyes to how the life of an immigrant was when attempting to enter the United Sates. I feel as though it also provided a unique perspective on the measures people will go to in order to earn money and to help their loved ones. Witnessing Ewa’s – the protagonist of the film – struggles throughout the film just to get her sister out of quarantine and off of Ellis Island, opened my eyes to how things might have been when Ellis Island was an active immigration station. I found that various moments in The Immigrant were very hard to watch because of the content within the scene.
Reflecting on the notes that I took while watching this movie, (1) I realized that the education many receive whilst learning about Ellis Island in school does not teach us anything other than that people were eager to come to the US and many came through Ellis Island. Neither my textbooks nor my teachers told my peers and me how hard it was for immigrants to get through the booking process at Ellis Island, especially if the immigrant did not have a relative to go to or a place to live once they got through Ellis Island. Also, my teachers and textbooks did not take much time educating my peers and me on how people immigrating to the United States, rarely lived a good life once they were here. While I knew many immigrants faced discrimination once they arrived here, I have always underestimated just how severe the discrimination was. People watching The Immigrant, see evidence of this discrimination when Ewa walks up to the processing desk on the island and she is denied entrance into the country because she was taken advantage of on the ship, which made her a “woman of low morals,” and is entering the country u...


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...work as a prostitute to rescue her sister from Ellis Island. As I have previously mentioned, Ewa and her family are strict Polish Catholics. Due to this, any pre-marital sex is strictly forbidden and if someone does engage in premarital sex, they bring shame to the family name. This is how Ewa comes to be banished from her aunt and uncle’s home by the uncle.
Many political facets seem to prevent Ewa from entering the country and many of these facets are heavily influenced by the social norms of 1920’s America. Ewa was raped and because of this, the fact that her uncle did not show up on Ellis Island, and that his address was “not valid,” she was designated “liable to become a public charge” and would mostly likely be deported. The border patrol agent even tells Ewa how the US does not allow unescorted women into the US, especially one deemed to be of low morals.

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