The movie ‘The Green Book’ is a film inspired by a real story of two friends who meet a professional approach. Don Shirley, a black American music Jazz player hires Tony Lip who is an Italian bodyguard to drive him across America. The two characters start a journey that sees them face their insecurities and fears of racism and emotional challenges. Jazz, race, and friendship inspire the journey of the two strangers (Anna). From the movie, the four thresholds of personal growth are expressed in different dimensions.
Starting with Don Shirley, he struggles with the sense of self-identity and acceptance. Being an American jazz player was a new thing in his time. He struggles to find a sense of blackness in his whitish lifestyles. Even though he is 100% black, Shirley portrays characters of white individuals in the way he dresses and relates with other people. His ordinary world is performing to whites in luxurious hotels and restaurants. He sets out to adventure other avenues in the state by planning a nationwide trip. On the other side, Tulip is an Italian who is struggling to pay his daily needs (Anna 12). His career has always been in protecting people and the closure of his permanent workplace comes as a shock to him. The two characters battle with different issues in their workplace. For Don, the rate of racism in other parts America makes him a target. His life reflects the southern history where blacks found a safe place for them to live in. outside this zone, the individuals felt a sense of insecurity.
As argued by Clive Webb and David Brown, the race has always been a determinative issue in southern history. Racial discrimination made it impossible for black society to conquer white-dominated areas. The struggles of Shirley in marinating his racial identity reflects on this issue. On one of his performances at a restaurant, the owners express that Don is not allowed to use the white restrooms. He is directed to a different dressing room and washroom as a result of his black color. To respond to this, Don openly results in conflict. He is conflicted of how the people are acceptive of his talent but do not include him in other matters. The instance where the manager wanted him to eat in a separate room clearly indicated how it is impossible for him to overcome the racist obstacle. His attitude was reflective of Jim Crow paradigm of race and literary form (Jarrett 390). The green book acted as an entry to different areas in the city. However, the simple source of literature did not help the black community to get a suitable guest house. Most of the designated suits were of low class. It is ironical how his driver sleeps in a better hotel due to his race while Shirley, the provider is forced to get accommodation on low-end residences. Don tries to fight back by refusing to perform in the restaurant as a result of the harsh treatment. He does this to express his anger and dissatisfaction of the white community towards his gift and rights as a black musician.
Tony Lip also faces the struggles of making enough money to support his family. Taking this job has made him understand the different side of black people. He is seen to be actively involved in the affairs of Don in terms of helping him when he difficult situations. He makes major sacrifices to help Don in a different situation. For example, when Don was caught in a hotel with his gay mate, Tony Lip protects him from the rage of white people. Don Shirley was badly beaten off and without his driver’s help, there were high chances that he would not make it out alive. Additionally, Tony Lip deals with his personal conflict of bad attitude and perception. He learns new ways of doing things from his boss (Anna 12). He faces the inner conflict of pride and ruthless behaviour which hinders him from achieving his potential.
The third threshold is expressed in different ways from the two main characters. Shirley admits the effort done by his friend in saving. He has always been this person who holds his emotions and refuses to share his inner filling. On their way to the north, Shirley is stopped by a traffic officer and blocked from traveling based on his color. Even though they are finally allowed to continue driving at night, this situation prompts Don to fully open up about his inner feeling. He confronts his childhood fear of not being accepted in society. He clearly sees the picture of what it means to live in America with money but without freedom. It is at this point that he expresses how he never feels like he belongs to the white or white race. He attests what has been explained by Paren about limited resources for black Americans (Paren 510). He does not have a clue what it means to be black since he does not understand their culture or language his assumption of the white race limits his perception of his original roots. He feels a sense of love for his fellow black race when they stop alongside a farm and see many black slaves in the area. The ironical situation that he is a black master makes him appreciate his life and vividly see the dark paths in his dreams. He realizes that he has been living is a dead zone with no deep connection to his roots.
Tony Lip expresses the desire to learn more about black culture. At the beginning of the movie, Tony is seen putting a couple of glasses and other basic utensils in the bin just because two black women had used them. The wife seems to be more receptive to accepting people from different classes than the husband. He sacrifices time with his family to go down south with a black musician who ends up teaching him more about race than what he anticipated. The scene exhibits the ideas presented by Jim Crow on racial segregation. Crow explained that racial segregation has always been a serious issue in America which affects the black community more than other races (Jarrett 388). The opinion that there is not enough black America literature during the first half of the twentieth century is expressed in the movie from the perspective of both Don and Tulip. The issue is not with the lack of black American writers but with racism. As expressed from Tony’s perception of the black community, it is evident that there was not enough information about the society. Most of the literary forms were from whites and other races. The rate of slavery made it hard for black to openly portray their real traits in society. The growth of Tony lip to accept the black American culture is impressive. After understanding that race is only the color of the skin and not a limiting factor to friendship, he starts to appreciate the efforts done by Don. He is seen advising and protecting Don from the attacks of other people throughout their journal down to the south.
The movie occurred during the Jim Crow’s era where bans on intersexual marriage were banned. Don pushed his limit by getting into a romantic affair with a white male. This affair almost cost his life. The separation of races is a dominant theme that is used to express how unfair the laws were during the early 1960s (Higginbotham 72). The scene supports the events as hinted by Keith Richards in his biography “the rolling stone”. The development of the characters along the movie indicates how southern tours were dreadful to the black Americans.
In conclusion, the movie “green book” illustrates the harsh reality of racism in America. The two main characters, Tony Lip and Don Shirley illustrate the four stages of a hero’s journey. Their distinctive roles showcase how the focus on personal growth emits positive energy that results in better living conditions with other people. Additionally, the movie vividly expresses the issues of segregation and the impacts of the civil rights movement in the southern part of America. The ending of the movie on a high note is a clear reflection of how racisms is a mental problem and how perception change can help deal with the problem.
Anna, Diamond. “The True Story of the ‘Green Book’ Movie.” 49.8 (2018): 12-12.
Higginbotham, F M. Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America. Wiley and Sons, 2013. Print.
Jarrett, Gene Andrew. “What Is Jim Crow?” JSTOR 128.2 (2013): 388-390. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/23489782?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents>.
Paren, Anthony S. . “Race in the American South.” The Journal of Southern History 75.2 (2009): 509-511. Electronic. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/27779016?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents>.