Critical Review: “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” also known as “Deportee” by Woody Guthrie
He two critical approached I chose to analyze “Plane Wreck as Los Gatos” are new historicism and cultural criticism.
In 1948 a U.S. Immigration Service plane was in route from California to Mexico with undocumented immigrants when in crashed. All 32 people were killed but the news only listed the flight crew names. The other 28 victims were just listed as Mexican deportees.
I chose to view this poem through new historicism. The men and women that once worked on American soil were being deported back to Mexico. The plane then crashes over Los Gatos Canyon and everyone on the flight dies. The media only choses to give the names of the Americans on the flight, and the rest were labeled at Mexican deportees. The deportees were somebodies loved one and deserved to be acknowledged with the proper respect. Mr. Guthrie shows symbolism by giving them fake names:
“Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”
Another view I chose to view this poem through is cultural criticism. Everyone has their own views of migrant workers. Americans contracted the migrant workers because they were cheap labor. The workers tended to the crops and picked the fruit from the trees. They were not view as hard working individuals but as illegal immigrants or deportees. At the end of the poem Mr. Guthrie writes:
Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves o rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except “deportees”?
Our names are who we are. It shows we existed, and by being labeled as a “deportee” is troublesome. Everyone deserves the right to be recognized and this is what “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” did for these men and women.
The critical approach I chose that is more suited for this poem is new criticism. When the people died on the flight all the only names the media cared to cover were the Americans. The other passenger seemed to not matter to anyone. Mr. Guthrie was disgusted how them people were just labeled as “deportees” and basically forgotten about. He acknowledged the work they did and brought awareness to the individuals who were killed.