By Sara R.
PRELUDE MAY, 1919
1. Why does the author select “ an ordinary day in May 1919 ” to narrate the comings and goings of the Smiths?
According to this text, the author decided to select - An ordinary day in May 1919 - because: “six months after the Armistice of 1918, the United States had largely succeeded in turning from the ways of war to those of peace”. The change of Era and the hostile life that Americans were living came to its end. - Thanks to the Versailles Treaty. June 28, 1919 -. For further information, it is estimated that 21.5 million people died of the influenza pandemic in 1918.
2. How do you interpret the expression “Mrs. Smith may use powder, but she probably draws the line at paint”?
In 1919, the beauty-parlor is in its infancy. Though women could use make-up, they barely used it because of their fears. For this reason, they only painted their eyes -Make-up was something new for them-. Woman’s attitude towards: face-lifting, powder, short hair, driving, and smoking in public was a symptom that woman’s society had begun to change.
3. How was short hair viewed in those days?
“Short- haired women like long-haired men was viewed as a symbol of radicalism if not with free love”. In 1919, women with short hair were not allowed to rent a hall. - “A well-dressed woman had come in a fine automobile to make arrangements for the use of the auditorium”, he added: had we noticed then, as we do now, that she had short hair, we would have refused to rent the hall”-. The ‘Modus Operandi’ of Americans at that time was: rejecting women with short hair for the betterment of Conservative Society and accepting the traditional lifestyle of that time.
4. What is a petting party?
A petting party is an amorous foreplay devoted to hugging and kissing. - Especially among young adults. It was a mass sexual foreplay-.
5. As far as the description of the bar and its clients is concerned, is there anything that strikes your attention?
Yes; women barely drink because it was considered to be a masculine prerogative. Instead of having cocktail parties in 1919, they used to celebrate tea-parties. -This is due to the Eighteenth Amendment; where the prohibition of alcohol, distilling, brewing and, the increase of liquor and cabarets led to the creation of the so called: ‘tea-parties’. - A grassroots movement that brings awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty or domestic tranquility of families -.
6. Was Prohibition backed by the majority of Americans?
In 1919, alcohol was banned by majority of Americans: “One man, as he tosses off his Bronx, says that he'll miss his liquor for a time, he supposes, but he thinks "his boys will be better off for living in a world where there is no alcohol"; and two or three others agree with him.” American Society thought that this would be a good alternative in order to save money in times of War (1914-1918) but also for the health and safety of American citizens.
7. Why do women “puff their cigarettes so self-consciously? In other words, what do they want to show when they puff their cigarettes in such a way?
In 1919, women “puffed their cigarettes so self-consciously ” because they wanted to claim their rights: -the same ones than men.- For this reason, they puffed their cigarettes in a ‘defiant way’ because they were not allowed smoking in public areas. “The national consumption of cigarettes in 1919, excluding the very large sizes, is less than half of what it will be by 1930”. ‘Puffing’ was also considered to be a symbol of glamour. -Regarding this behavior, it is said that women smoked at home because they did not know how to smoke.
ALCOHOL AND AL CAPONE, PROHIBITION
1. Why was Prohibition presented to the American audience as a patriotic measure, something which had to be done to save the country?
The beginning of First World War, (1917) was a time of economic cutbacks. Government needed to make changes in American Society in order to provide the basic needs to its citizens. For this reason, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified in January16, 1920. As a consequence, the so called: ‘Spartan idealism’: efficiency, production and health was spread across America. - Now, citizens did not drink but were saving the country in order to provide citizens their basic needs - but also, a rejection towards German products. - Brewers and distillers were of German origin- and anti - German feelings.
2. The results of enforcing Prohibition were immediately felt on America. Name some of the consequences that Prohibition brought about and explain the cause-and-effect relationship between them.
Some of the consequences that Prohibition brought about were:
Increased of distilled alcohol instead of fermented liquors.
The use of hip - flask.
The cocktail party.
The transformation of drinking from a masculine prerogative to one shared by both sexes.
The mixing of drinks.
Women: the use of hip - flasks.
New places: bootlegger, speakeasy and a spirit of deliberate revolt.
The cause - and - effect that Prohibition brought to America during the Twenties was a time of excesses: many people were consuming alcohol and, as a consequence, people started to deal with alcohol and create their own businesses. -Indeed, they were tempted to consume more alcohol, even when it was banned-. However, when the war was over, Americans started to be conscious of the reality they were living and, started to live in a peaceful mode thanks to: ‘ The Revolution in Manners and Morals’. This Revolution had its effects on American Society, some of these positive effects were:
Drunkards on the streets any more.
Drinking at the colleges was at its worst.
Cases of poverty as a result of drunkenness decreased.
Drinking in the mining Districts of Pennsylvania was a thing of the past.
3. Provide a definition of the following terms:
. Bootlegger: to make, sell, or transport (alcoholic liquor) for sale illegally.
. Moonshine alcohol: intoxicating liquor. -High percentage of alcohol. Especially, illegally distilled Corn Whiskey.
. Speakeasy: it is an establishment that illegally sells alcohol beverages.
. Moonshine still: a machine where the alcohol is done.
. Bathtub gin: a homemade spirit made in amateur conditions with raw alcohol, essences, oil and water.
. Smuggler: to import or export without paying lawful customs charges or duties.
. Hip-flask: a small portable flask, usually made of metal, used to hold alcohol.
. Racketeer: one who obtains money by an illegal enterprise usually involving intimidation.
4. By 1920 Prohibition no longer held the same esteem it had enjoyed in previous days. Can you explain some of the reasons for this new state of mind?
After a time of excesses, Americans wanted to be themselves, relax and do not fit the norm. Citizens were very tired of the emotional breakdown of drinking and girding up their loins -in something that was not good for their health-. Furthermore, many people became millionaire due to the Prohibition of Alcohol and this was not a good chance of reaching the American dream: “could be undertaken almost anywhere, even in the householder's own cellar; a commercial still could be set up for five hundred dollars which would, produce fifty or a hundred highly remunerative gallons a day, and a one-gallon portable still could be bought for only six or seven dollars”.
5. Did Prohibition finally achieve the purpose for which it was designed?
No; mainly because people went on drinking on the streets. -Prohibition encouraged citizens to drink more alcohol-.
Illicit distilling was undertaken anywhere. People started to make of alcohol a business. –Many gallons.
THE REVOLUTION IN MANNERS AND MORALS, THE FLAPPER
1. Explain in your own words the dispute that emerged between hairdressers and barbers on the issue of women’s hair.
In 1924, bobbed and cropped hair was a boom among women of all ages. Thus, a conflict between hairdressers and barbers popped out: at the time barbers were forcing Legislation, -to have your hair cut if you had a license as a barber- hairdressers thought that going to a barbershop was not a comfortable place for a woman: "The effort to bring women to barber shops for haircutting is against the best interests of the public, the free and easy atmosphere often prevailing in barber shops being unsuitable to the high standard of American womanhood." Finally, barbers were the winners of this business.
2. The prototype of a feminine ideal suffered a serious convulsion after the 1920’s. List some of the changes in women’s fashion and behavior produced in these years and explain why was each of them received with such controversy?
In 1919, The Ladie’s Home Journal claimed: “rouge is imperceptible if properly applied”. Women barely used make-up. However, in 1920, the use of make-up was a boom. And, as The Journal stated: “It is comforting to know that the alluring note of scarlet will stay with you for hours”. Moreover, Women’s fashion suffered a drastic change. In 1920: the use of short skirts, the boyish form and the long - waisted dresses were used by women. Furthermore, the quest of slenderness, the flattening of the breasts, the vogue of short skirts, the juvenile effect of the long waisted-all, the shingle hair, a little hat in the bobbed hair, silk stockings, the use of knickerbockers for the weekend, high-heels and, finally, to give the appearance of an unripened youth -to emulate the ‘teenager love’. Concerning their behavior : women had to allure men, ( especially: Golf and office), also, they were more disinhibited related to sexual affairs by flirting and playing with men. -No romanticism-:” A woman of the Post-war Decade: “You want exciting play, you want the thrills of sex without their fruition, and I will give them to you”- But I will be free. (Men did not want to have the care of a family or wisdom).
3. Which is the best way to account for the change of attitude towards the use of cosmetics?
The best way to account for the change of attitude towards the use of cosmetics is through advertisements. -Especially, from a conservative period and a modern one. (1919-1920)- In 1919, The Ladie’s Home Journal claimed: “rouge is imperceptible if properly applied”. Women barely used make-up. However, in 1920, the use of make-up was a boom. And, as The Journal stated: “It is comforting to know that the alluring note of scarlet will stay with you for hours”. The same happened with ‘Listerine’. In 1919, ‘Listerine’ was considered a danger: “The prompt application of Listerine may prevent a minor accident for becoming a major infection” and, in 1920, a raphsody: “a rhapsody: Spring! For everyone but her”.
4. Why does the author of this book, Frederic Lewis Allen, state that “the women of this decade worshiped not merely youth, but unripened youth”?
The author stated that: “the women of this decade worshiped not merely youth, but unripened youth” because of the use of make-up in order to restore the bloom of youth that makes to occult imperfections. Besides, women wanted to be “boys” and act like them. -They were irresponsible and did not think about making babies or forming a family-. “I am your companion and together we are doing the same thing”. -Juvenile irresponsibility and innocence-.