Dalla Route 66 ai Treni del Sole: le Migrazioni Interne in The Grapes Of Wrath e Rocco e I suoi fratelli
As cultural depictions of internal migrations in their respective countries, The Grapes of Wrath and Rocco e i suoi fratelli illustrate a parallel trajectory despite two opposing and divergent historical contexts, i.e. the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States, and the “economic boom” or “miracle” in Italy of the 1950s-60s. Perhaps the biggest point of contact between these texts is the theme of familial disintegration associated with their migration, wherein both the Joad family and the Parondi family sacrifice their unity in the name of either the community, as in the case of the former, or for assimilation in the case of the latter. With the exception of a few fleeting references found in previous scholarship, there has never been an in-depth comparative study conducted on the relationship between Steinbeck’s novel/Ford’s cinematic adaptation and Visconti’s film. Thus, my thesis aims to explore this connection, showing how these narratives are not only testimonies of their socio-historical contexts, but also of how internal southern migrants in each country were treated as “Other.”Albeit differently, these literary and cinematic texts posit a seemingly inevitable final result of migration wherein the family unit is dissolved, and historic questions and tensions of identity are evoked. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family’s well-depicted journey from the Dust Bowl to the “Promised Land” of California parallels that of the pioneers in the founding myth and American tradition of the Western frontier. Yet, in Rocco e i suoi fratelli, the focus is on the family’s integration difficulties, emerging from an entrenched dichotomy between Northern and Southern Italy stemming from the country’s Unification, as argued in its famous “Southern Question.” Despite their contrasts, the representations of Okies in The Grapes of Wrath (both the novel and film) and terroni in Rocco e i suoi fratelli not only offer insights into the 20th century migratory phenomenon that changed their countries, but have also, through depictions of discrimination against fellow citizens, foreshadowed certain exclusionary American and Italian attitudes regarding contemporary international immigration.
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