POST #17: Migrant Mother

Migrant Mother
Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange

Hello everyone! I’m back… this time to show you a photograph that has really moved me, and a couple of paragraphs of writing I wrote about it, in Creative Writing club.

But first; just look at her. Take in every minute detail of the photo, every nuance in her expression, every aspect of her life glimpsed through this snapshot. Ask yourself questions. What is she looking at? What is she thinking? Who is she? Why is she where she is?

This is what we did in our club last week, and I think it is a really useful exercise. Fifteen minutes spent noticing, imagining, and then writing are definitely fifteen minutes well spent!

So, this was my little study, based on the picture. I went slightly post-apocalyptic which was unintentional, but there we go:

Every day, they rushed home from the outskirts of her dead city, laughing, playing amongst the rubble of lost livelihoods. For this place, once one of fortunes and riches, had descended, slowly at first – then all at once, into ashes. The factories had ground to a halt, money had likewise ceased to flow, and her life had rolled on like empty petrol a few metres, and then stopped with a final, exhausted splutter.

The children’s lives had not, and she took solace in the survival of the shallow pleasures hops and skips could bring them. If that could transcend all depths of loss, then more could follow; and even as she reached her lowest of thoughts, she was preparing to climb the uphill journey towards happiness. Look forward. Breathe. Live again.

And now for the truth:

The woman in this picture is called Florence Owens Thompson. The photo was taken in 1936, and has become one of the most iconic depictions of the everyday Americans in the midst of the Great Depression. In a later account of the taking of the photo, the photographer said that Thompson had told her how they had been surviving only on frozen vegetables and birds the children killed. She had just sold the tyres of her car that day in order to buy food.

This is real, desperate poverty. Yet all of our stories that we wrote in Creative Writing had a positive, hopeful strain to them, however small. Perhaps its something in her eyes; they look quite determined to me.

Any thoughts?


https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html – this details her back story and gives the rest of the photos in the collection. Worth checking out, if you were interested!

2 thoughts on “POST #17: Migrant Mother

  1. Great post! I think you are right, there is determination in Florence Owens Thompson’s eyes. The frown lines on her forehead tell us she has known worry and hard times but she stares straight ahead seeming to focus on the next thing she needs to do to survive and help her children do the same. I can really appreciate your writings based on this picture too. The imagery you use is compelling. It makes you feel for the mother and want to cheer her on as she fights not only for her children’s survival but to be happy again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a good blog. I fear that it demonstrates that the world is not yet wholly civilised. I wonder whether it ever will be. Not in my lifetime, I fear. Augustus Earwhacker


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