America: God, Gold, and Golems Themes

America: God, Gold, and Golems Themes


Greed is a major theme in all three of these graphic novels, although it is more obvious in some than others. The second story, "Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight," is the most obvious example. Weeks, the avaricious mine-owner, relentlessly pushes his men to discover gold in the mine, and when he discovers that Skinny is rich, he does everything he can to obtain his money. He's not the only one, either; Ricks, Pierce, and even the doctor clearly value money above almost all else, leading to terrible tragedy. "The Golem's Mighty Swing" also deals with greed; Paige is a clear example of an opportunist and sensationalist, and the team's desire to make more money makes them go along with his deceptive plan. Even the first story, "The Revival," has elements of greed; the Bainbridges want more than they have or deserve in their quest to bring their daughter back from the dead for purely selfish reasons. This greed, however, is put in its place when Elijah doesn't bring the girl back.


"The Golem's Mighty Swing" contains a heavy theme of discrimination. The main character is the manager of a Jewish baseball team called the "Stars of David," and while touring America and playing games, they experience a large amount of discrimination. Umpires often rule in favor of the white team despite a clear bias, fans harass players (especially Mo) during the game, and boys even throw rocks at players walking around town. Sturm doesn't shy away from depicting this prejudice in its ugly reality, thus giving the story a sobering sense of truth.


Tragedy is a major element of all three stories, especially the first two. "The Revival" is the story of a married Christian couple whose daughter has died; they travel a long way to get to a famous preacher to ask him to raise their daughter from the dead, and he does not do so. The tragedy of Emma's death is harsh, but her parents must learn to trust God and move on. Tragedy has an even larger impact in "Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight," where white men force the Chinese out of the mines of Solomon's Gulch, executing and torturing them to do so. Jem Harper dies, and the story depicts his funeral; Skinny has a mental breakdown, and then Weeks kills Mae, Skinny, and then himself, leaving Athlea orphaned and the town in shock. Even "The Golem's Mighty Swing" is a story about the tragedy of racial prejudice in America, as well as of the impact of marketing and sensational deception on a formerly honorable sport.

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