Exam preparation materials


Many authors attempted to capture the human suffering that was so pronounced in the 1930s. Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God about growing up black in a small Florida town. Studs Lonigen by James T. Farrell depicted the lives of the Irish in Chicago. The previously mentioned The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck tells the story of Dust Bowlers moving to California for survival, while Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road describes the suffering of sharecroppers in Georgia. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell offered a romanticized tale of survival from another period of crisis, the Civil War.

Most Americans of the 1930s got their entertainment through radio. Radio in the 1930s offered soap operas, comedies, and dramas. Americans were also offered “high culture” on most radio stations, as symphonic music and operas were standard fare. The response to H. G. Well’s dramatization of “War of the Worlds” demonstrated the power of radio in American life.

Going to the movies provided a way for Americans to escape the sufferings of their daily lives; by 1939 nearly 70 percent of all adults went to the movies at least once a week. Lavish sets and dancing in movies such as The Golddiggers of 1933 allowed people to leave their cares behind, at least for a couple of hours. Shirley Temple charmed millions, and movies such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington showed audiences that in the end, justice would prevail. Promoters attempted to make movie-going itself a special event in the 1930s; theaters were designed to look like palaces, air conditioning was installed, and dishes and other utensils were often given away as theater promotions.

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