Through a series of images, Vertigo by Lynd Ward represents life during the Great Depression. The book is broken up into three sections The Girl, The Elderly Gentleman and The Boy. Each section represents a different struggle of life. The Girl represents the financial struggle against the American Dream, The Elderly Gentleman symbolizes the struggle between life and death, and The Boy represents the struggle of obtaining employment.
In The Girl, the girl and the boy visit a fortune teller. The girl is playing a violin for a crowd of people and the boy is shown at a construction site. A few images later in 1930, the boy is show to be leaving in search of employment. In 1932, the girl’s father is shown to be laid off. As he walks home, he sees a billboard advertising for life insurance. The father is then shown pointing a gun at himself. Due to the financial struggle of the Great Depression, the father is most likely contemplating suicide so the life insurance money can be claimed by his daughter. Although the girl walks in on her father’s attempted suicide and stops him, she is not quick enough to completely prevent all injuries. Her father is shown to be taken to the hospital and later with bandages over his eyes. The father’s attempted suicide and blindness represents the impulsive and irrational decisions that people make when confronted with financial difficulties.
In The Elderly Gentleman, the gentleman is shown to be malnourished and reliant on medications. The gentleman is show to be depressed throughout most of the section. He appears to be fighting to stay alive. However, unlike the girl and her family, the elderly gentleman is portrayed to have some wealth since he has a butler and also owns a company. There are graphs of profits and wage cuts throughout the section. When the profits are low and the wages are cut, the elderly gentleman is presented to be struggling heavily to stay alive, whereas when the profits are higher, he appears to be more alive. Since this is happening within the Great Depression, he never is shown to be living life to the fullest or with any signs of happiness or joy. The elderly gentleman’s struggle with life versus death represents the struggles people had to stay alive both physically and mentally. The gentleman’s life struggle is not directly financial, but the loss of strength due to aging. This aspect of the struggle can be compared to what the people lost during the Great Depression and their struggles to overcome the obstacles.
In The Boy, the boy is unsuccessful in finding employment. Throughout the section, he is shown to be traveling looking for a job. He goes to several businesses including a placement agency, but does not have any luck. It appears that he tries some jobs, but fails to secure them and has to try again somewhere else. The boy shows how difficult it was to find stable employment during the Great Depression.
Vertigo represents life of a girl, an elderly gentleman and a boy in during the Great Depression. The girl represents the financial struggles, the elderly gentleman portrays the struggle of life versus death, and the boy represents the struggle for employment. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, it affected people of all ages and wealth. From the girl and her father to the elderly business owner, everyone had struggles. Some people dealt with these struggles with impulsive and irrational decisions, whereas others dealt with them as life. Although this book focuses on the Great Depression, there are struggles in everyday life regardless of the time period. C’est la vie. It’s life.