The jazz age

This essay has a total of 815 words and 5 pages.

The jazz age



In spite of social and economic upheaval, the 1900’s prospered as a whole. The 1920’s were
marked by technological, historical, literary, and political, phenomena. Society was
experiencing a new way of life, characterized by new technology that enabled Americans to
kick back and enjoy all life had to offer.

During the 1920’s, the United States started off on a joyride in an “era of wonderful
nonsense” (World Book Encyclopedia p.114). Americans felt lighthearted and optimistic
after WWI. New advances in technology were invented like the “Model T” and canned foods.
People spent more money on travel and vacation resorts. They announced a new generation
with jazz bands and a craze for sports and dances.

Life in the home was also affected. Ready-made clothing, and household appliances gave
women the opportunity to release themselves from everyday drudgery. More women began to
seek work outside of home. Daring girls nicknamed flappers shocked the older and more
traditional members of society. Their short skirts, bobbed hair, and public use of
cigarettes were frenetic compared to the previous style of that time.

In 1919, Amendment 18 to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture and sale of liquor.
This marked a turning point in America’s history. Many people resented this new law and
drank in illegal clubs called speak-easies. Gangsters took over bootlegging and crime
increased. The federal government found it almost impossible to enforce prohibition,
mainly because society had such a strong opposition towards it.


The Jazz Age was a golden period in American literature, distinguished by the works of
such writers as Willa Cather, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway,
Sinclair Lewis, and Carl Sandburg. At the same time, American writers began to influence
world literature.

A period of disillusion and cynicism that followed WWI found expression in the writings of
a group of Americans living in Paris who became known as the Lost Generation. These famous
writers shared bitterness about the war and dissatisfaction with American society. Some
of the most influential writers of this period include novelist Thornton Wilder, poet
Archibald Macleish, and Hart Crane. The term lost generation was first used by writer
Gertrude Stein in her preface to Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises (1926) to
characterize Hemingway and his circle of expatriate friends in Paris (Roberts p. 27).

The 1920’s saw the emergence of modernism. Modernism coincided with the mood of the Jazz
Age by asserting that the individual had the potential to broaden their perspective and be
unique. Authors like James and Wharton examined the complex psychology of America’s rich
population.
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