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Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the 'Migrant Mother' Picture
Unformatted Document Text:  11 In this article, the mother of the Migrant Mother picture is not a migrant worker, but an ordinary woman who is worrying about the future of America. In addition, by the text, the worried-looking eyes of the mother are interpreted as horror-filled eyes. It is a very different interpretation of the picture, compared with other uses. Fifth, there is a case of the Migrant Mother picture being cropped. In the article, “Cranberries, Tomatoes, Potatoes and Onions” of Pilgrim Highroad (July, 1940), the children of the Migrant Mother picture are cropped and thus only the mother is shown in a circular frame (Figure 5). In this cropped picture, the woman represents not a mother who takes care of children, but a single migrant. The article explains that the migrant problem exists in every state, not just in the West and that the lives of the migrant workers are miserable. The caption says, “ The woman at the top of this column can expect to earn enough money in the field to buy only her daily food.” That is the only explanation of the photograph. With this caption, the woman is presented as a person who is getting by, not who is almost starving. The apparent anxiety of the woman symbolizes poor migrant conditions. The meanings of the Migrant Mother pictures in the six articles were framed differently by its caption, written text and other photographs, even though they were used in the same genre – photojournalism. The Migrant Mother picture was differently represented as plight of migrant workers suffering from poverty, as a symbol of the strong will of migrant workers, as a symbol of people who need public aid, or as a symbol of people who worry about the future of America. It shows that the specific meaning of an image is strongly influenced by its internal context. In fact, in photojournalism genre, the Migrant Mother picture was used as evidence for the written text. News media have made use of photographs in their news reportage for two major purposes; 1) to claim accuracy for their news report or as evidence for their written words, and 2) to get readers' attention and thus boost circulation (Schiller, 1981). That is, the Migrant Mother photograph was used as an illustration having a news value and provided evidence for the written text. 2) Documentary Book Archibald MacLeish's Land of the Free has 88 photographs to accompany his poem. All eighty-eight photographs have the same display format (layout): a text, actually poem on the left page, and a photograph on the right page. At the end of the book, the captions of photographs are placed together. MacLeish laments the declining freedom and opportunity in America and looks to a

Authors: Choi, Hyunju.
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11
In this article, the mother of the Migrant Mother picture is not a migrant worker, but an
ordinary woman who is worrying about the future of America. In addition, by the text, the
worried-looking eyes of the mother are interpreted as horror-filled eyes. It is a very
different interpretation of the picture, compared with other uses.
Fifth, there is a case of the Migrant Mother picture being cropped. In the article,
“Cranberries, Tomatoes, Potatoes and Onions” of Pilgrim Highroad (July, 1940), the
children of the Migrant Mother picture are cropped and thus only the mother is shown in a
circular frame (Figure 5). In this cropped picture, the woman represents not a mother who
takes care of children, but a single migrant.
The article explains that the migrant problem exists in every state, not just in the
West and that the lives of the migrant workers are miserable. The caption says, “ The
woman at the top of this column can expect to earn enough money in the field to buy only
her daily food.” That is the only explanation of the photograph. With this caption, the
woman is presented as a person who is getting by, not who is almost starving. The
apparent anxiety of the woman symbolizes poor migrant conditions.
The meanings of the Migrant Mother pictures in the six articles were framed
differently by its caption, written text and other photographs, even though they were used
in the same genre – photojournalism. The Migrant Mother picture was differently
represented as plight of migrant workers suffering from poverty, as a symbol of the strong
will of migrant workers, as a symbol of people who need public aid, or as a symbol of
people who worry about the future of America. It shows that the specific meaning of an
image is strongly influenced by its internal context.
In fact, in photojournalism genre, the Migrant Mother picture was used as evidence
for the written text. News media have made use of photographs in their news reportage for
two major purposes; 1) to claim accuracy for their news report or as evidence for their
written words, and 2) to get readers' attention and thus boost circulation (Schiller, 1981).
That is, the Migrant Mother photograph was used as an illustration having a news value
and provided evidence for the written text.
2) Documentary Book
Archibald MacLeish's Land of the Free has 88 photographs to accompany his poem.
All eighty-eight photographs have the same display format (layout): a text,
actually poem
on the left page, and a photograph on the right page. At the end of the book, the captions of
photographs are placed together.
MacLeish laments the declining freedom and opportunity in America and looks to a


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