Why has the America of the 1920s been described as the “roaring 20s”? Essay

Due the enormous success of America in the 1920s, it has been described as “roaring”. There are many aspects of this success that contribute to this description. Almost everyone benefited from the boom of the 20s, and the changes that it brought were mostly positive.

In the cities there were well paid jobs, and therefore people who lived in cities benefited from the better paid jobs. It was a time of positive change. Also, land in cities is expensive so people who bought land in the cities built upwards. That is why the cities in America started having skyscrapers. The sounds, smells, and sights of the cities, could be described as roaring.

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The sound that a car makes when it goes past is roaring, which is why the 20s were roaring for the many people that could now afford to buy cars. Due to cheaper production and advances in technology, many ordinary Americans could afford cars. Cars provided convenient transport, and also helped many other industries boom. Over 20 million cars were sold during the “Roaring Twenties” and one car was produced every hour in the Henry Ford factory. This was one reason for the 1920s being “roaring” as the production line never stopped.

The roar of the radio was also common in the twenties. People had access to a wide scope of entertainment, without leaving their house. Also, the radio helped provide people with new types of music. Radio also gave birth to mass advertising, which links in with other aspects of the roaring 20s.

One of these was jazz, which promoted positive attitudes. The upbeat tempo of jazz roared through America. Jazz broke down the traditional stereotypes, and due to jazz people were encouraged to change their dress and behaviour to music. It encouraged people to accept black people, as jazz was an invention of the blacks. It had lead to the twenties being roaring by giving exciting, positive thoughts. However, some thought jazz was having a corrupting influence towards sexual attitudes. Therefore, jazz was mostly roaring in the twenties for young people.

In the 1920s women were getting employed more. There were new labour saving devices that helped women who were housewives, such as vacuum cleaners. The style of fashion and hair had changed for women. Sales boomed led by advertisements of make-up. After the First World War, women gained the vote and many other rights after the War, which led to the uprising of “flappers” (see figure 2). “Flappers” was the term to describe the new generation of women, who had short hair, wore trousers or short skirts and publicly exposed themselves. The older generation of women and men were not appealed by it, and several flappers were arrested by the police for their “obscene dressing”.

The women became more rebellious during the “Roaring Twenties” and were free. No longer were women just housewives with no lives. They were free women who loved to party and go out to the cinema, have sex in the back of a car and even be prostitutes. Prostitution became popular as sex outside marriage increased, and many women found themselves working as prostitutes, which increased the rebellious atmosphere of the 1920s. The women’s new attitudes were also linked with the economic boom, but also the cinema. The cinema provided this “flapper” image that they copied and used, and the boom allowed them to shop new clothes and items. Many things changed for women, for example, Henry Ford’s black cars were also available as other colours because women wanted them. Women were also a major part of the audience for cinema and radio.

In the 1920s there was a change towards the sexual attitude. Sex outside marriage was becoming more and more common. Contraceptives and contraceptive advice was being given out for the first time. Sexual attitudes were being broken down by cinema. Cinema had a huge impact on young people especially. People were inspired by the stars, and they wanted to follow them. Cinema especially had an impact on young people. Hollywood made over $800,000,000 in just one year during the “Roaring Twenties”. Sport became equally successful and popular, and sporting stars such as Babe Ruth were earning millions. People continued their “roaring” lifestyle and began to gamble on sporting events and also try new and exciting ones such as car racing.

America changed a great deal after the First World War, and during the 1920s. The American people were richer, happier but above all more rebellious and confident and were willing to take risks. They enjoyed anything that was new and exciting. It was known as “roaring” because of what the new American society stood for. There was gambling, prostitution, illegal drinking, crazy stunts and all sorts of new things that no one had seen before. It was most of all “roaring” because the 1920s was so unique and alive compared to what it had previously been and the flame of the “roaring” fire was getting bigger and bigger as entertainment and industries grew. The economic boom was the spark to the fire, and it ignited due to what the people did with their new freedom and lifestyle.


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