Dr. Juniper Ellis
15 Nov. 2012
“The Line” is a documentary sharing the stories of several different individuals who struggled living below the poverty line. An overwhelming forty-six million Americans are living below the poverty line. It really helped to disprove many of the misconceptions that are often associated with people who are living in poverty. Many times ignorant people assume that those people who are suffering from poverty are lazy, stupid, and possess no skills. Another significant misconception is that people want to stay in a status of poverty. This documentary helped to prove just how incorrect this fallacy is.
“The Line,” shares many common motifs with Jack Schaefer’s Shane. Although the two works portray very different situations, characters in each piece display common, admirable qualities. Such attributes include loyalty, selflessness, and determination.
John is a single father who is unemployed and meanwhile attempting to support himself along with his three children. Not so long ago he thought that he had his entire life under control. He had a good job and was easily able to support his family. However, he took a business risk and in turn ended up losing everything. Largely due to their financial struggles, his wife filed for divorce. In spite of all of this he did not give up. Continually applying for job positions and attending interviews, he showed persistence. He took up every opportunity to tutor or substitute teach in order to provide for his family the best that he was able. He also performed handy work on homes in order to lower his rent. Shane, the main character in Schaefer’s novel, demonstrates this same determination. He is never willing to give up, even when it would be much easier to do so. Fletcher and his men threaten the Starretts and intimidate them to move off the land, but Shane will not allow this to happen. He is always willing to put up a fight for what he knows is right and will do whatever it takes obtain what he desires.
In Shane, Joe turns down Fletcher when he offers to allow Joe and Shane to keep their land as long as the rest of the town is forced to leave. This demonstrates the men’s loyalty to the rest of the town. Those in “The Line” who give back to the community display a similar sense of loyalty. Howard is a woman who grew up in a high violence community. After many struggles and setbacks she was left in a terrible financial situation. She too exemplified determination by pulling herself along with her family out of their situation and eventually arriving in a much more comfortable state. However, her loyalty shined through, as she did not forget about her past and the many others who were still suffering in similar conditions. Howard created an organization that worked to repress violence. Her program coordinated students to take a pledge against violence and crime. She did not forget about the places she had come from and instead remained devoted to her connections. Her dedication helped to counteract the problems that she had once faced. Joe and Howard illustrate a comparable loyalty to the people of their towns.
John, who was earlier discussed for his determination, also displays selflessness. He expressed the shame that comes from having to ask for things and being dependent on others. However, he swallows his pride and goes to a food bank. He shows selflessness as he sets his own emotions aside in order to provide for his children. His children’s health and wellbeing is more important than his pride. Both the Starrett family and Shane demonstrates selflessness in Shane. The Starretts do not know Shane when he first reaches their home. Despite this, they continue to welcome him with open arms, recognizing that he is in need. They sacrifice themselves and become vulnerable by allowing him to enter their home. Shane reciprocates this same selflessness when he fights off Fletcher and his men. He states that he would rather himself be hurt than Joe. Shane places himself second, prioritizing the safety of Joe. This admirable trait is recurring throughout Shane and “The Line.”
Both pieces of media display many admirable traits that comprise a person of good character. This constitution of such exemplary qualities results in a group of heroic characters. The documentary concluded with a scene of a declaration from Howard’s son. He asserted that although there was a time where he was living in conditions of poverty, he never viewed himself as being poor. There were many other features of life that he is rich in, such as love and happiness. His financial situation did not define him and the same goes for every other person in the world. The true merit of a person comes from his or her qualities as a person. The characters in both “The Line” and Shane help viewers to be mindful of respectable attributes, inspiring them to rise to higher virtue.