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Women in the Great Depression

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Jedidah Kimani

Hist 1302

Easy 1: Document 3- Women in the Great Depression 

  1. In what sense were these depression era writings hopeful or despairing?

        After reading both documents ‘Women on the Breadlines’ and ‘I was marching’ by Meridel Le Sueur I realized that there was definitely a strong sense of despair in these depression era writings. According to Meridel Le Sueur, “So we sit in this room like cattle, waiting for a nonexistent job, willing to work to the farthest atom of energy, unable to work, unable to get food and lodging, unable to bear children; here we must sit in this shame looking at the floor, worse than beasts at a slaughter’’ (Meridel Le Sueur, p. 10). This explains the level of despair among the American people as there was no much hope at all. When the depression era struck in the New deal which was proposed to help the less fortunate didn’t accomplish its stated goals. People who thought this New Deal proposal would bring about changes in their lives were let down once the policies were implemented. Women were the biggest victims at this time of depression as it was extremely difficult for them to find jobs in order to support their families especially when the husbands had left the house in search of work and never return leaving the women the only source of support for the who family According to Meridel Le Sueur, ‘‘ most of women who come here are middle aged, some have families, some raised their families and are now alone, some have men who are out of work Hard time and the man leaves to hunt for work. He does not find it. He drifts on’’ (Meridel Le Sueur, p.3).

  1. What vision do these writings offer of collective over individual action?

        The first document ‘Women on the Breadlines’ were calling for individual action over collective action based on the writer predicament. Individualism is defined as the idea that a person life belongs to that individual and he or she has an inalienable right to live it as he or she sees fit. Individualism advocates acting on your own judgment and keeping or using the product of your own effort to pursue your most values of choosing. According to Meridel Le Sueur, ‘‘ A woman will shut herself up in a room until it is taken away from her, and eat a cracker day and be as quiet as a mouse so there are no social statistics concerning her’’. The second document I was marching’ was calling of collective over individual action as people came together stood up and fight for their right together. According to Meridel Le Sueur, ‘‘that night at eight o’clock a mass- meeting was called of all labor. It was to be in a parking lot two blocks from headquarters. All the women gather at the front of the building with collection cans, ready to march to the meeting’’ (Meridel Le Sueur)

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