Dbq of "The Roaring 20's"

Honors American Studies 2 Blk. 1 3-19-2012 Document Based Question. In America, the 1920’s were a time of constant change, and also great conflict and there seemed to be two sides. The side encouraging change and the side repelling even the sheer idea of change. But whether you liked it or not, change was happening all over. Hundreds of new products were being churned out of assembly lines by the minute, and it seemed that everything was feasible with new technology. The economy was booming, and with the help of credit and mass production, even the poorest of citizens could afford goods.

Change was every evident in the 1920’s and no matter if it was good or bad, it was necessary for the growth of the United States. Documents A and G both show a side to society that was quite unheard of before the Roaring Twenties: women acting “unladylike”. Document A is a cigarette advertisement from the 1920’s, showing a woman in a skimpy flapper dress claiming the attention of a young man. The slogan on the ad reads “what is more irresistible than Murad? ” Document G spectacles a scandalously clad woman, a flapper. The woman’s dress is sleeveless, and is short enough to show her knees.

Both illustrations show how women were beginning to escape the shadow of their husbands, and to defy the standards that society had trapped them in for generations. Women were fed up with being the quiet, subdued housewife and were ready to make their mark on the world, no matter what it took to do so. Another idea that rocked American society was the notion of planned parenthood and birth control. In Document D Margaret Sanger tells of the horrors of premature parenthood and gives countless reasons to avoid becoming a parent too soon.

She blames children coming too soon for the “millions of marriages [that have been] blighted”. She resents the idea of marriage being an introductory to motherhood and states that Americans need to understand that the idea of womanhood as it relates to marriage has changed and that planned parenthood and birth control can help preserve this new idea. Sanger declares that motherhood is a wonderful experience that helps to shape and unfold “the realization of her higher nature” a woman has when she is ready to bear children.

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This being said, she also states that without the proper time for a couple to bond, an early or unplanned pregnancy can cause unwanted separation between husband and wife. Sure this all sounds fine and dandy to the average American, but the Catholic Church was not pleased. The Catholic Church did not believe in birth control fought heavily against it. But dispite their efforts, Margaret Sanger planted a seed in the minds of the young couples of America, and completely changed the perception of motherhood and marriage. Advertisements were the next thing to go through major changes.

Very seldom, if ever did companies use risky tactics to attract customers until the 1920’s rolled around. Businesses were using fear, generalization, and blanket statements to get customers to buy their products. Document E shows this in the advertisement for Everyday Flashlight and Battery. It is titled “The Song that STOPPED! ” and is about a young girl who goes down into her cellar for her mother, but trips in the dark and breaks her leg. The advertisement circumstances that “if a flashlight had been hanging at the head of the cellar stairs, this little tragedy would have been averted”.

Everyday Flashlight uses this story to instill fear and anxiety into their customers, and say that they need their product not only as a convenience, but to protect their family. They play upon the desire Americans have to make their lives easier and tell the public that they need their flashlight to do so. These tactics were brand new in advertisement, and only got worse as years went on…now we even have half hour long advertisements telling us how much we need a product… America underwent many different vicissitudes during the “Roaring Twenties” and each one helped to develop what the country is today.

Changes in advertisements paved the way for the infomercials of the 21st Century, and helped to sell products and keep the economy moving. Margaret Sanger gave America a whole new perspective on motherhood, marriage, and birth control that Americans still follow today. And the flappers…well, they sure did provide entertainment, as well as a way for women to express themselves and have a little fun after years of oppression. Although a few changes eventually helped drive America into a depression, most were quite beneficial to the country and are still affecting Americans today.

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