Student Handout: Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth was made in 1953 about a mining strike in New Mexico. It deals with the struggle for worker equality and for racial and gender equity. The film was made during the McCarthy era, and it was blacklisted for containing “Communist propaganda.” Please view the film carefully, taking notes, so that you can answer the following questions thoroughly.

  1. List the various alliances you see throughout the film. When did people cross out of their comfort zones or groups to help others and when did they act in solidarity?
  2. List the various instances of resistance during the film. When do you see people working for change, challenging authority or the status quo?
  3. What are the necessary elements for successful resistance?
  4. What do you have in common with any of the characters or any of the groups in the film?
  5. Discuss one quote from the film.
  6. This film, according to the U.S. government, contained dangerous propaganda. What ideas in this film were considered dangerous and to whom?
  7. How does this film connect to current issues around September 11 and in what ways does it help you think about the U.S. response?
  8. Tell a story, in as much detail as you can, that shows what you mean when you say “we.” In other words, tell about a time when you acted as an ally for someone or in solidarity with someone, or when someone acted in solidarity with or as an ally for you. Use the elements of narrative – dialogue, blocking, character development, setting description, etc. Show, don’t tell.

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