The Worker by R. J. Cardullo | Script Revolution

The Worker

Johnny has been laboring in a mill since he was seven years old, earning money for his fatherless family—until, at age twelve, he decides to run away . . . and retire.

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Page Count: 
15pp

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Age Rating:

Based On: 
“The Apostate” (1906), a short story by Jack London.
Synopsis/Details: 

"The Worker" takes place in Oakland, California, in the early twentieth century. The story concerns a boy named Johnny, who has been laboring in a mill since he was seven years old, earning money for his fatherless family. Denied a real childhood, Johnny has lost his innocence and, at age twelve, possesses the irritability of an old man. He is terribly efficient at his job, however—so efficient that he appears machine-like.

Though Will, one of Johnny’s siblings, is old enough to work, the boys’ mother makes sure her younger son stays in school and lays much of the responsibility for supporting the family on Johnny. Thus does the latter’s life continue, unrelieved, until one day he must remain at home because he catches a bad case of the flu. On account of his illness, Johnny has to stay away from work for two weeks, with permission from the factory boss.

During this period, he mostly sleeps. When it is time to head back to work, Johnny decides he’s going to quit his job, leave the family, and do nothing except rest for the remainder of his life. His shocked mother tries to make her oldest child change his mind, but she fails. Johnny walks out, leaving his mother and siblings behind . . . and he keeps on walking, with a smile on his face.

Submitted: November 27, 2020
Last Updated: November 27, 2020

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R. J. Cardullo's picture

The Writer: R. J. Cardullo

A former university film teacher, I turned to screenwriting several years ago. I have also written film criticism for many publications. A New Yorker by birth, I grew up in Miami and was educated at the University of Florida, Tulane, and Yale. My last U.S. address was in Milford, Connecticut; I am now an expatriate residing in Scandinavia. Many of my scripts (both long and short) are adaptations of lesser-known works by well-known authors. I am happy to re-write, collaborate, or write on demand. Thanks kindly for any attention you can give my work. Go to bio

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