The times we live in today are marked by division, rancor and sadly, hatred. For too many years the politicians have held sway over our lives. Increasingly, the government has become intrusive into a citizens private affairs. It appears that in the US today we see about half believing the State should have a large role in the life of a citizen, and the other half is adamantly opposed to this, believing in the rights of an individual to be left alone and taxed fairly and not for another’s welfare.
Jesse and Hector in The Bend are inclined to believe in their right to build a business and to be left to their own devices without government assistance. Ada, Jesse’s mother would tell him to get his education and do this on his own with his God given talents. She took some government assistance as she worked so very hard to gain her college diploma, regardless of the odds against her. She was grateful for this assistance, but it bothered her. She actually found a way to pay this money back to her college as she gained better jobs, which provided the resources to do so. Hector used the money he saved to build an auto repair shop into a franchise of shops all over southern California. He did not like the heavy regulations he had to abide by from the taxes he had to pay as a business owner. His father, Geraldo, and he would talk about this often since Geraldo’s restaurant had the same burden to deal with every year. Together, they employed many people who were grateful for their jobs, and grateful to be working for owners who really did care about them.
It is this belief in hard work and the opportunity to build your own enterprise and to be thankful for what America provides which allows for Hector, and Jesse to be free. They served in Vietnam and saw what lack of freedom and liberty means and can do to a person and to a society. They know that nothing is guaranteed or should be given to you. They realize it is the Pursuit of Happiness that is available to them, not some stipend from the state. “Just give me the opportunity and I’ll do the rest” is what they believe and share. Jesse is a Preacher, and Hector is a business owner along with his father. They may get criticized or even ridiculed by their friends. Jesse is a black, African American, and Hector is Latino. Both have see the effects of discrimination, but both know their continued attitude of “can do” and hard work is a better way of life, then to join a gang and just bitch or get high while hanging with your homes or brothers on a corner in the hood or barrio. Choices, some good and some not so good.
The Bend explores this outlook and choices as Pete, Jesse, Hector, and their friend Gary along with their families struggle to maintain their hopes and dreams during the upheaval of the 60’s.
The Bend is not the end of the road