While watching “Foreign Correspondent”, I was struck by the patriotism of the movie. The main character, Johnny Jones (so close to Johnnie James!) maintains a rough, individualistic view of the world throughout the film, representing the celebrated masculine capitalist figure of American lore (“A showdown!”, he boldly suggests at every opportunity to face the enemy). I tried to connect him to Johnnie in the book without much success, and found that their contrasts were more evocative than their similarities. Johnnie and Johnny both want to be foreign correspondents (and Johnny often introduces himself as such, despite his formal title of reporter), but Johnnie fails in this capacity by the end of the book.
Johnnie’s failure to extend her writing to more serious, distant subjects is ironic in the book because of her inability to really connect with the subject of her domestic reports: home. She says that she is “not sure that [she] longs for home” (98) and doesn’t seem to enjoy writing about ruins and American lifestyles.
Strangely, Johnnie’s opinion on comparing versus contrasting switches back and forth in the book: early on, she states that she “prefer[s] to compare rather than contrast” (2), and then later, her instructor tells her not to “get hung up on the differences” (88). Is this book about contrast or comparison? Does Johnnie value both?
Returning to Johnny, the final scene of the movie seemed to define his character’s focus: informing the American people of impending war and encouraging them to keep the lights lit. He reports all this from a building in war-torn London, speaking in grand metaphors and commands: Keep America bright!
Does Johnnie also hold these sentiments? She struggles to report on domestic matters, despite her obsessive interest in Scooter’s residence in her home region. I think the book is addressing these grand metaphors of American resilience, and the obsession with home and boisterous patriotism we supposedly have as Americans.