The setting of the movie is in New Orleans where a community of (for a lack of a better word) barbarians reside. The people are used to a lifestyle of depravity and resort to living in a vile and disgusting swamp; refusing to be aided by volunteers who may help in improving their economic level and moral standards.
Hushpuppy, the main character is wise beyond her years and adapted so easily to the misfortunes of her life. Living in an unhealthy environment, having an absent mother and being burdened by Wink, her father who is troubled by his own issues, she sees the purpose behind such a heavy circumstance. Relating all the minuscule events to the the bigger picture. I quote her from the movie: “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the whole universe will get busted.”
At first, the movie seemed too complex and shocking for me. I had to absorb it to really find the meaning behind it. The aurochs (ancestors of the cattle which are already extinct) appear in the movie symbolizing power and stature. They represent the destruction of the community. “Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied.” Hunting, disease, climate changes, and habitat loss caused aurochs to go extinct in 1627, when the last individual died in Poland’s Jaktorów Forest” (source:http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/17/exclusive-the-secret-of-the-aurochs-those-beasts-of-the-southern-wild/) At the end of the movie, Hushpuppy faces the aurochs with courage while the others strayed cowardly from it. The beasts bow to her as if to recognize the power she had within.
Hushpuppy losses Wink, her father, due to illnesses because of his way of living, being an alcoholic, lacking sanitized food and water and living in a dismantled shelter, he’d rather have nothing cured nor changed. Despite his many flaws, he recognizes his duty as a fatherly figure. “My only purpose in life is to teach her how to make it.” he says. I admire Hushpuppy’s character in this movie. She had to cope with so many adversities yet she remains strong, accepting the things she cannot change and knowing the meaning and beauty behind death.
Hushpuppy states in the movie: (and this quote hits me hard) “Everybody loses the thing that made them. It’s even how it’s supposed to be in nature. The brave men stay and watch it happen, they don’t run” – Relating Hushpuppy’s situation with mine, I lost my father (who contributed a lot to my character and who made me) at 13 and by his death, he made me stronger. Although I could’ve grown into a different person with his presence during my adolescent and prime years; and maybe have gotten wiser and smarter because he had always been the wittiest and coolest man I’ve gotten to know; I’m slowly recognizing the meaning behind his early departure. Up until today, I’ve always wondered how it would be like if my dad were alive to guide me in my words and actions. I rewind the past and imagine what I would do to have made my relationship with him better. I would have apologized for being a brat and for all the shortcomings I had that he never had the aggressiveness to correct at certain times because of how much he loved me. But Hushpuppy taught me something tonight. I will be brave to forgive myself and watch how his void in my life unfolds. I will stop running or wondering what could’ve been. I know I still commit mistakes my father would’ve disapproved of if he were alive, but at the end of the day, I believe his love for me is unconditional and he is my guardian angel.