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Created by dshipley on May 29, 2008
Last updated: 03/12/10 at 03:02 AM
The Great Crash of 1929, was the initial and greatest cause of the great depression. The Great Crash happened on October 24th 1929. 1 in every 20 farmers were evicted from their land. The Great Crash had a direct effect on fiction, the most popular example being John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", and "Of Mice and Men". The Grapes of Wrath, a ficticious novel of the Joad family's struggle during such harsh economic times, after losing their farm due to lack of surplus. Of Mice and Men, is a similar theme to The Grapes of Wrath, it is about 2 migrant workers struggle during the great depression. F. Scott Fitzgerald arguably foreshadowed the Great Crash, in The Great Gatsby, years prior to The Great Crash. The twenties were a very fast paced, wealth, and party focused society. Evidence of this is seen in the literature of the time. The Great Crash ended the roaring twenties, and the pain endured by the people during the depression was not forgotten in literature.
Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants living in Massachusetts. They had ties to anarchist groups and were tried for armed robbery of a bank and the murder of two clerks. They were convicted and executed on August 23, 1927. Their conviction was the result of racism against foreigners. Any immigrant comming to America durring this time was treated like dirt. Racism can be seen in much of the literature in the 1920's. The slaves in Diamond As Big As the Ritz and many characters in The Great Gatsby use racist remarks quite often.
The Sun Also Rises, written by Ernest Hemingway, came after WWI and takes place in Paris France and Spain. Prohibition was in affect in the United States but it was not present in Europe and the people enjoyed good times. This book is very similar to The Great Gatsby because it is about love between two characters that is present; however it can never exist. It mirrors society because it shows what life was like in Europe at this time. Alcohol was everywhere and the characters were always drinking, just like in the Great Gatsby. There was also a lot of greed. All of the characters seemed to want or need something that they could not have and none of them were satisfied.
The Great Gatsby was published on April 10, 1925. The book takes place in Long Island New York in 1922. The Great Gatsby as a whole, showed how people of the 1920's lived after World War I. This time period was often known as the "Roaring 20's". Prohibition came went into affect and saw people make millions off of bootlegging. These are all reasons as to why fiction mirrors society. As we read we see how people lived during the 1920's and how that life style affected the way carried themselves. The most telling reason as how fiction mirrors society is the way that F. Scott Fitzgerald foreshadowed the great crash. He never came out and mentioned, but he mentioned how it would be hard for his characters to keep living such a lavish lifestyle.
F. Scott Fitzgerald did an extraordinary job portraying society of the 1920's in his writing. Themes and motifs in his stories are influenced by his society surrounding him. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921, restricted immigration to the United States, further adding the the United States's isolationism at the time, post World War 1. Isolationism is evident in Diamonds As Big As the Ritz, when Percy takes John to his secluded location, unknown to all. Due to the war production effency was at a high. There were less men at work, and with less workers and more effcency, wages for workers were higher than ever, Diamond As Big As the Ritz contain extravigent luxeries and extreme wealth. With new freedoms for women, Fitsgerald included a Kismine character, a teenage women refusing to accept being a plain young lady.
The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy was written by Lothrop Stoddard. The book focuses on the rise of the "colored peoples" and the fall of the white world. Stoddard's book clearly portrays racist through the comments he makes and the "scientific racist theories" he includes in the book. On the other hand, this novel also reveals Stoddard's dislike and criticism towards other powers, specifically European powers, conquering and forcing other races and nations to obey them. The Great Gatsby clearly shows how fiction mirrors society by including this novel with in it. Fitzgerald creates the character Tom Buchanan, who reads a novel by "a man named Goddard." It is clear Fitzgerald tries to hide the actual author and the title of the novel but the novel Tom reads is percieved to be The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. The concept and portrayed in Stoddard's book, which portray the thoughts of the public at that time, are portrayed in Fitzgerald's fictionsl piece, The great Gatsby.
During this time in American history, alcohol was illegal from coast to coast. This did not stop people from drinking and many disregarded the law. People made millions making and distributing alcohol and there was too much going around for law enforcement to handle. A prime example of how fiction mirrors society is located in the Great Gatsby. Gatsby was one of those people who sold alcohol illegally and made a lot of money. He also threw wild parties where there was always a ton of booze. Prohibition ended in 1933 because of the 21st amendment.
The Wold Series of 1919 pitted the heavily favored Chicago White Sox against the underdog Cincinnati Reds. The Chicago First baseman, "Chick" Gandil came up with the for the fix, so he contacted his friend, Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein was mentioned in the Great Gatsby as a friend of Gatsby, but in a different name. The 1919 World Series shows how fiction mirrors due to the fact that the Great Gatsby, mentions the World Series Fix and the main man in the fix, Rothstein.
The purpose of this timeline is to show how events through the 1920's have affected the literature of the time period and the years after. The events that follow show how "Fiction Mirrors Society", they range from events in daily life to different types of literature.