Study Guide

Bonnie and Clyde Society And Class

Society And Class

CLYDE: This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrows. We rob banks.

Clyde says this to a displaced farmer who's just lost his home to a bank. He's doing a couple of things with this line. First, he's promoting himself and Bonnie by announcing the "Bonnie and Clyde" brand. Second, he's telling the farmer that, while the big bad fat cats at the bank got him, he and Bonnie will get back at the banks. This sets them up as a couple of Robin Hood figures, but, unlike Robin Hood, they give very little of what they steal back to the poor.

CLYDE: I want to take one (a photo) of Bonnie alone.

Buck and Blanche have just arrived, and Clyde wants to take a picture of Bonnie by herself for the camera. She strikes a flamboyant pose, slouched sexily against the front of a car holding her gun in one hand with a cigar in her mouth. Again, this is personal marketing. This is how Bonnie wants the world to see her: flamboyant, sexy, eccentric, rebellious, and very much her own woman.

NEWSPAPER: Law enforcement officers throughout the Southwest are frankly amazed at the way the will 'o the wisp band of Clyde Barrow and his yellow-haired companion Bonnie Parker continue to elude their would-be captors.

After the gang steals a newspaper, Buck reads this part of an article that thrills the gang in many ways. Bonnie, for example, is delighted to be mentioned. The gang also finds it funny that they supposedly have been spotted as far north as Chicago, where they've never gone.

BONNIE: Take his picture! Listen, we'll take his picture. We'll send it to all the newspapers. And everybody's goin' to see Captain Frank Hamer of the Texas Rangers with the Barrow Gang and all of us just as friendly as pie.

Instead of shooting or hanging Frank Hamer after they capture him, Bonnie suggests this alternative, one that not only humiliates Hamer but also raises the stature of the gang. She knows that the press could not possibly resist something like this, and that this will build their brand even more.

BUCK: Take a good look, Pop. I'm Buck Barrow. We're the Barrow Boys!

After humiliating Hamer, the gang robs another bank, and on the way out Buck makes a specific point of announcing that he is also very much a part of the Barrow Gang. A little envious of Bonnie and Clyde's celebrity, he clearly wants more attention as well.

BANK GUARD: There I was, staring square into the face of death.

After this robbery, we see snippets of press interviews with people involved in the robbery. This is the first, a bank guard's account, which is clearly sensationalized to grab headlines. Not only does this give the gang a greater celebrity mystique, it's exactly the kind of copy newspapers want to boost sales. For both the gang and newspaper companies, it's a win-win.

FARMER: And all I can says is they did right with me. And I'm bringing me a mess of flowers to their funeral.

During the same robbery, Clyde spares a farmer who said that the money in his hand was his, not the bank's. The farmer was surprised and delighted that Clyde let him keep his money and made this comment to the press afterwards. Acts such as this helped to increase Clyde's celebrity as a modern-day Robin Hood, even though he wasn't doing quite the same thing as the famed outlaw of Sherwood Forest.

CLYDE: I expect you've been reading about us.

Clyde says this to Eugene and Velma soon after the gang picks them up and drives away with them. Like Bonnie and the others, he enjoys the notoriety the gang has now achieved and the fact that most people around are following their exploits.

SPEAKER 1: That's Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

SPEAKER 2: What happened to them?

SPEAKER 3: They famous?

SPEAKER 4: Sure enough.

These quotes come from various people in a camp of homeless people who see the wounded Bonnie and Clyde in the backseat of C.W.'s car. Everyone at the camp seems fascinated by the sight of the two, as if they're seeing a movie star or famous sports figure. They are, in a word, transfixed. One man even makes a point of touching Clyde with his hand. While Bonnie and Clyde's time might be running out, their celebrity is still growing.

CLYDE: What you writing?

BONNIE: I'm writing a poem about us.

One of Bonnie's final acts of celebrity building (as well as personal expression) is writing a poem about Clyde and herself focusing on their love, how they lived, and their inevitable early deaths. In the film, this poem is published before their deaths, both enhancing their myth and giving Frank Hamer even more incentive to finish them off.

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