Salt of the Earth: An Analysis of Themes

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Themes: Salt of the Earth The 1954 film Salt of the Earth explores a wide variety of social issues that would come to the forefront of social conscience in the coming decades. The film examines the economic and social inequalities perpetrated by the economic system in the United States, racial prejudice, and gender equity. The script is based on a real-life labor strike and uses the actual miners involved in the labor dispute as actors. The movie was made outside the studio system by blacklisted writer Michael Wilson, director Paul Jarrico, and director Herbert Biberman. The movie exposes the shabby working and living conditions of the Mexican-American community. It provides some historical background on how Hispanic rights were violated by white industrialists. The land where the mine is located was once owned by members of the local Mexican-American community, however the Zinc Company moved in, took over the property and offered them the "choice" of moving or accepting employment at low wage. Additionally, the workers are enticed to live in management-owned houses and buy at management-owned stores. The homes of the Hispanics are shacks compared to those of their white co-workers with poor sanitation and bad plumbing. The stores sell goods at inflated prices, which put the workers in debt. Safety is another issue raised by the Hispanic miners. Regulations for the minority workers are lax, especially when compared to those in mines dominated by white workers.
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