The Power of Words/Language

Words have the power to bring about all sorts of emotions. It can trigger anger, sadness, joy, comfort, and can be used for threats, praise, and/or guidance. In a movie called “The Reverent,” a white man named Glass, his son, a mixed child of Pawnee and white descent, Hawk, and his group of white expeditioners were stuck in Missouri hunting for fur pelts when they were attacked by Indians (called “Rees” in the movie) and were left with barely anything. As they trekked along the snowy mountain, fighting against the harsh winter, Glass had been severely injured by a grizzly bear which nearly ripped out his throat. From then on, Glass could not talk and could only use his eyes and body language to communicate, but still his men could not understand most of the things Glass would try to “say.” The men had to move along to find help and left Glass with his son, a man named Fitzgerald, and another young boy to take care of him. Fitzgerald saw no hope for Glass and stabbed Hawk to death to die alongside his father, and left with the other boy, who was healthy, leaving Glass for dead.power_of_words__mehdi_amini.jpeg


Throughout more than half of this movie, very little words were spoken unless they were commands, threats, yelling, or pleading for mercy.  However, when spoken, the words were short and direct, having impact on whoever they were directed to and whoever spoke them. When Fitzgerald killed Hawk, Glass could not yell to the other boy for help because his throat was injured and none of the men in the group knew that Fitzgerald had actually killed Hawk. But when Glass recovered, he went straight to his captain and told him, “Fitzgerald killed my son.” This one sentence triggered the captain; he was angered enough to go out into the harsh winter environment with Glass to hunt down and kill Fitzgerald for dishonesty and cowardice. Also, Glass was able to survive when encountering an Indian (“savage”) eating his meal because he knew the man’s language and was able to communicate and build a relationship with the man that allowed him to survive. Few verbal scenes were portrayed throughout the story, but when words were spoken, it saved lives or got someone killed. blog-245-2.jpg


This use of hostile or gentle language, the power of choice to use words for good or bad, can be compared to what a professor at UC Berkeley, George Layoff, said about how conservatives use language to dominate politics. 

Words can break us or give us strength and hope, anger us or calm us, signalized danger, hope, and comfort. Words can also build an empire. Language can be a bridge or a barrier. Words are meant to communicate with your neighbors; this later builds a neighborhood, society, and an nation as seen by the relationship between Glass and the stray indian man he encountered, and also the United States of America. Our diverse and heavily cultured nation was built upon by communication and relationships that were allowed by language and words. words / language is part of our identity and something crucial to do anything in this world.

One Comment Add yours

  1. chiehyut says:

    I really liked your pointing out the importance of language in the film. I didn’t really consider that even a single sentence such as “Fitzgerald killed my son” can serve a great importance in the overall portrayal of language. Glass was straight to the point, not wasting any of his energy to explain the whole situation. It was only until later that he explained to the captain that the boy, Jim, was innocent and not related to his attempted murder because he was just following orders. It’s really interesting to also think would Glass have survived the journey if he didn’t know the different languages of the Indians? Because if he hadn’t bond with the Indian he encountered, he wouldn’t have received help from the Indian, or worse, the ‘savage’ would’ve just killed him right there during their first meeting. Overall, great thought provoking post!


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