Changing attitudes toward charity : the values of depression-era America as reflected in its literature
As a time of economic and political crisis, the Great Depression influenced authors who sought to rewrite America's underlying mythology of rugged individualism into one of cooperative or communal sensibility. Through their creative use of narrative technique, the authors examined in this thesis bring their readers into close identification with the characters and events they describe. Creating connection between middle-class readers and the destitute subjects of their works, the authors promoted personal and communal solutions to the effects of the Depression rather than the impersonal and demeaning forms of charity doled out by local governments and private charities. Meridel Le Sueur's articles 'Women on the Breadlines" "Women are Hungry" and "I Was Marching along with Tom Kromer's novel Waiting for Nothing, are examined for their narrative technique as well as depictions of American attitudes toward charitable giving and toward those who receive charity. The works of Le Sueur and Kromer are shown as a progression culminating in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath later in the decade. By the end of the 1930s significant progress had been made in changing American values toward communal sensibility through the work of these authors and the economic programs of the New Deal, but the shift in attitude would not be completely accomplished or enduring.
Poverty in literature
National characteristics - American- in literature
American literature - Themes, motives