In Will Eisner’s A Life Force, the reader encounters numerous characters living in a tenement in the Bronx in the 1930’s. The characters span from a newly poor young man to a Rabbi with a wife who isn’t quite well in the head.
A character I really liked in the graphic novel was Elton who was a victim of the Crash of 1929. He grew up in a wealthy family and was accustomed to money so he decided to venture out of the family business and find his own path. As soon as his father passed, Elton got rid of the family business and lived just on the stocks until the market crash where he lost his job, money, friends, basically everything in his life. From there he had to move to the Bronx to Dropsie Avenue in a tenement. Elton met Rebecca there, his soon to be wife, and her Jewish Family. Eventually, with support from Rebecca, Elton got a new job, moved up in the ranks, and got Rebecca’s father a business of his own and managed to make good money.
The Great Depression affected everyone and their jobs, economic status. Elton, for example was left without a penny after the business was gone, his neighbor had no jobs to do or was getting paid very little and split the pay with his other neighbor, and other neighbors were getting into communism after being failed by the democracy they trusted.
What I learned from Elton’s relationships with all the other people in the tenement is that they all stick together and help each other out. Living in such close quarters, everyone was always in everyone’s business but that never kept anyone from lending a helping hand when the time came.
Journey into Mohawk Country by George O’Connor is the tale of Harmen Meyndertsz Van den Bogaert and his journey with two of his mates from the bottom of Manhatas Island to Mohawk Country in seek of new friendships to strengthen the Dutch trade.
Coming from different cultures leads to clashes between the Native Americans and the Dutch explorers, but since the two sides were able to tolerate one another and even become friends in the end, the only underlying tension was prejudice coming from either side in the course of their travels.
A specific example of prejudice coming from the Dutch side is when Bogaert mentions the keepsake that most people keep as a sign of their faith and he seemed to have been a little put off by the fact that the keepsake in that tribe was a “marten’s head,” while Bogaert’s own keepsake is a cross he wears around his neck. So the difference between the two icons made Bogaert kind of step back from his reality and realize how far on each side of the spectrum the two cultures are.
An example of prejudice from the Native American side is every instance when Bogaert and his friends arrived at a new tribe. The masses of people that wanted to get a look at the light skinned foreign men that had just arrived never ceased to astonish Bogaert. He would constantly explain how they would “throw each other into the fire,” to take a peek at the Dutch explorers. It’s understandable that they never encounter light skinned people but to the Dutch men it could be taken offensively the more it occurs to them.
Overall, the book was a fun adventure from the point of view of the main Dutch explorer. I liked the fact that what was left untold by words was told by pictures and it broadened the actual content of the graphic novel and it’s plot. There were many cases of prejudice or bias but all those instances are completely understandable since the two types of cultures never really come together and they’re all from different places on earth. The same type of instances still happen all over the world and it’s due to the little amount of bridges between cultures even to this day.