BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4--1999

Sugar Cane Alley by Euzhan Palcy

Jose's education represents the justification of the sacrifices made for him. His grandmother has done so much for him, and worked her fingers to the bone, so that he might have more of a chance than the others working the fields every day. As she dies, I wonder whether she realizes how much Jose has truly developed, and that he has a good heart in his chest besides a good head on his shoulders.

Jose learned grammar, about his African heritage, about racism . . . , and about right and wrong . . . all from different sources. I found the old village man especially interesting in light of my research paper topic, which is about community involvement in education.

The theme in Sugar Cane Alley . . . can be seen very evidently in my life and in many others. My parents want nothing more than for me to be . . . successful in my life. For example, they did not think that they were going to have enough money to send me and my brothers through college, so my mother decided that she was going to go back to school so she could become a successful lawyer. She did that and she finished second in her graduating class. She now has a high ranking job and my parents feel confident that they will be able to get the four of us through school somehow.

Much of the movie focused on Jose's journey through schools and that portion of his education, but I learned that the most important facet of Jose becoming an educated person was all that he gained from spending time with his mentor. He learned about his cultural history and much more that cannot be absorbed in a classroom from Mr. Medouze.

Jose must choose his culture and his community or his education, but he cannot have both. This internal struggle is very touching as the story unfolds and Jose chooses to pursue his education.

The film sends a message of hope, stating the idea, as was also put forth in Candide, that everything works out for the best.

In Sugar Cane Alley, all the events that surrounded that period of Jose's life nostalgically reminded me so much of myself, my parents, and my education. In the same way that Jose's grandmother treated him, my parents did the same and sacrificed all they could to make me have more opportunities than they did. They did not want me to become just another worker in the cane fields. Seeing the old decrepit lady work laboriously washing and ironing clothing to put Jose through school was especially moving because it reminded me of how much my parents cared for my success in education. My parents did not have to go as far as washing and ironing laundry, but they did work vigorously to gain extra income and even sacrifice time spent with my other four siblings so that I could continue in my education here at Brandeis. I know also that they would not think twice to wash clothing and iron it if that's what it took to put me through school . . . . I too, like Jose, have this dream that someday I will be able to look after my parents as they did for me. I dream of when that day will exist, a day when they will no longer have to worry about their son. And on this day, I want to give them what they have given and sacrificed for me.