A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

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In Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom from Want” he is illustrating one of the four freedoms that President Roosevelt had expressed hope for. In a famous speech in January of 1941, Roosevelt hinted that the United States would most likely end up as a part of WWII and that we would be fighting for four basic freedoms worldwide: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Freedom from Want represents a happy family sitting down to what looks like a hearty meal with its main course being a big turkey. The structure is unusual since the table, not the people, occupies the majority of the space. There is also not a lot of food, but the large turkey, indicating that you don’t need extravagant things to feel joy. A grandmother-like figure is serving the turkey to a full table of smiling faces. It is obvious that Rockwell was trying to depict a family who did not have to worry about “wanting” anything more than what they had because they had plenty. This is an image of a family who did not have to worry about having food on the table that night or shelter over their heads. Roosevelt’s famous speech was in early 1941; this image was not published until early 1943. In this time period, the United States had entered World War II. This image was even more touching to those who saw it at the time of its publication; it was what they were fighting for. The painting is about freedom from want, the idea of sharing joy with those we love.

© Norman Rockwell

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