October 29, 1929, some may know it as Black Tuesday, others know it as an important date in history but those who lived it know it as the day that changed their lives for many years to
come. Black Tuesday marked the beginning of a new life style for the people of the 30’s. The stock marked crashed and although its investors lost all they had, margin buyers were completely wiped
out. This essay will examine the changes that followed the event that marked the Great Depression through the lives of James Braddock, Mae Braddock and the society as shown in the movie
James J. Braddock once said, “I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them.” When the great depression began Braddock lost all his money, job and for an amount of time electricity, but his hope and pride was something he never fell short of. James Braddock was not always the boxer he is now known to be, in the 1920’s he had lost one third of his fights and people referred to him as a “bum” – the lowest name you could label a boxer at the time. Despite a broken hand and the hatred the crowd brought upon him, Braddock never hesitated to do his best on the rink, but Jimmy Johnston failed to see this. Johnston fired Braddock as the great depression hit, leaving James with nothing but a broken hand to come home with. Braddock spent little time dwelling on the fact that he had just lost his job and instead covered the cast that secured his broken hand with black shoe shiner and made his way to the docks the next morning in hopes of being one of the few lucky men to be chosen. Money was tight, but when his son, Howard, came home with a stolen salami Braddock didn’t think twice to return the salami that could be very useful for the family to its oblivious owner. When the chance to return to the boxing rink knocked on his front door, James Braddock accepted without hesitation. His luck began to turn around as more money made its way into Jim’s pocket. A couple of fights later James J. Braddock went from a poor local fighter to the world’s best heavy weight champion and earned his nickname, Cinderella Man. Jim then paid back the relief money he received while in need, allowing the bank to support those who lined up to collect every cent they could get with less difficulty. It was a rollercoaster-like journey, and although there were difficulties Braddock never regretted the choices he made, the choices his wife, Mae Braddock, stood by every step of the way.
Some may have seen Mae Braddock as just another unfortunate wife, for she, like many others, had a husband with a low income that struggled to support the family, Mae disagreed. Mae Braddock loved her husband very much, rich or poor she wanted no one other than James J. Braddock. They had three children, James, Howard and Rosemarie. When sickness threatened one of their children’s life, Mae decided to send their kids away to a home where she thought they would be safer. A disappointed and defeated Jim disagreed with Mae’s decision and decided to consult his former boxing buddies for help to pay the bills in order to make their home a safer environment for the kids. Although Mae knew people frowned upon asking others for money, she stood by Jim careless to what others would say. Mae Braddock took up sewing to help James support the family they both knew and loved. Although Mae didn’t completely approve of the life-threatening boxing matches Jim fought to sustain the Braddock family, she never abstained him from the sport. A caring mother and loving wife, that is who Mae Braddock should be known as.
Although not a character, the changes society faced played a big part in the great depression. Many people lost their homes because they couldn’t afford rent which caused a great amount of men to move into what was called “Hoover Ville”. Riots and chaos were no strangers to Hoover Ville, men got into fights a great amount of times and some were severely injured through this process, others – like Mike, James Braddock’s friend – were beat to death. Life styles changed dramatically, unlike in the roaring 20’s several kids found themselves sharing one birthday cake, others weren’t even entitled to one. The government tried to show their support by providing social assistance to the great amount of people in need. Relief money was available to anyone who was willing to risk their reputation by lining up at the bank to receive it. Pride was extremely important to the people of the 30’s and some would rather die than ask another for help.
The loss the New York Stock Market faced of $30 billion dollars marked the beginning of the Great Depression. People were faced with choices they never thought they would have to make, families were broken apart and many committed suicide because they failed to cope with the shameful lifestyle the 30’s brought upon them. James J. Braddock, Mae Braddock and the unforgettable part the society played in the movie “Cinderella Man” showed us the changes people of the 30’s faced as the Great Depression hit and the decisions they made to cope with the situation many never recovered from. October 29, 1929, the day that brought us all together.
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