Changes of America in the 1920s

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As a nation coming out of a devastating war, America faced many changes in the 1920s. It was a decade of growth and improvements. As immigrants fled from Europe, the economy improved, and new machines offered convenience and luxury from the kitchen to the streets. However, with all change comes opposition. The 1920s revealed a conflict between traditional America and the new attitude and lifestyle through the changing role of women, continued dominance of Christian values, and racism.

World War I sent women out of the home and into the workplace while men fought the war; this newly gained self-confidence carried over into the 1920s. It became socially acceptable for women to smoke cigarettes, as shown by one cigarette company’s slogan, “torches of freedom.” However, even though some women did embrace this newfound liberty, others feared and fought it: “The duty of motherhood is still relegated to the women… we must protect the coming generation by teaching the present one the effects of smoking on the unborn” (Doc G). In addition, the number of divorces peaked in 1920 at about 1,350,000 (Doc H). While women felt more independent in some aspects of life, the media still reinforced their duties at home. New electronics, while convenient and helpful, became objects of status and power for the woman at home: “standard advertised wares….were…at first the sing, then the substitutes, for joy and passion and wisdom” (Doc A). Working in the home became glamorous and admirable again. Between conflicting messages from the media, newfound power in the right to vote, and experience outside the home, women faced both opportunities and opposition during the 1920s.

As a nation, America constantly struggles between its Christian roots and secular system. The 1920s saw a post-war clash between the old conservative values and a more contemporary diverse society. The Ku Klux Klan, originally founded in 1865 but outlawed in...
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