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The mood of this image is much more somber than the other jook joint photographs. That as outsiders we are able to access this solemn moment lends a sense of insight, authenticity and privacy to the atmosphere. It is difficult not to compare it with the image of the two white couples (#8), taken in a different town in the area, and read a lonely tone into these two men's poses. There is an intrusive feeling to the representative act; the way the men lean back in their seats, receiving the entry of the camera lens, the uncomfortable angles of the men's physical environment as against their rounded postures.

The sober quality of these two men's gazes has to battle against the distracting energy of the lines, ruffles and pictures on the wall behind and to their left. Nicholas Natanson reads irony in Marion's choice to frame the photo with the advertisements clearly visible. He feels it lent it a "bite with its suggestion that all was not well in the relationship of the judge and the judged" (229-30). It makes sense that Marion consciously considered the advertisement's effect on the image; the figure of the judge appears so large and in focus that he almost makes a third character. He is literally as big, if not bigger, than either one of the men, and his knowing expression seems to be implying something.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001


When you've checked out all the photographs, you may want explore the history of Belle Glade, the area where they were taken. 

You also might want to fill in your reading with some background on what jook joints are about.