Women in breadlines during the great depression article review example

Women in Breadlines

Meridel Lesueur was a journalist for a newspaper, The New Masses. She wrote the article “ Women on the Breadlines” that was published in January, 1932 in The New Masses. One of the myths about the Great Depression has been that women were protected from the destitution and homelessness by fathers and husbands. Instead families were broken up when resources so low everyone could not be fed. Old resentments and jealousies led to lack of cooperation. Young women who wanted to have some freedom instead of supporting their parents and siblings rebelled. Some ran away from the rigid rules in their families and some were thrown out. Husbands left their families as they looked far away for work.
In the last days of summer, 1932, she was in Minnesota, a state known for its bitterly cold weather. Already women waiting at the employment bureau were dreading the coming winter. There were no jobs and if no jobs became available what would become of them? Lesueur was reporting on families and especially the impact of the Great Depression on women. She writes very movingly about the hunger that women experience in contrast to other people in the city who had so much to eat. The impression from her article is that the difference between the poor and other residents in the city was very stark and very desperate. She wrote
Is there any place else in the world where a human being is supposed to go hungry amidst plenty without an outcry, without protest, where only the boldest steal or kill for bread, and the timid crawl the streets, hunger like the beak of a terrible bird at the vitals?
It is very startling that she mentions how hungry people may even “ kill for bread.” It seems like a hopeless situation because no jobs are ever available at the employment bureau. The descriptions of the women waiting for a job also demonstrate the hopeless situation.
There are both single women and married women waiting but most seem to be middle aged. The married women may not even know what has happened to their husbands. The wife is left to find a way to feed the children. The single women look at the married women waiting in the room with them and swear they will never marry. The older women are examples of an anti-marriage sentiment because of how ruined their bodies and lives have become. On the other hand the single women are not able to find any jobs either except if they sell their bodies for sex. Even that sacrifice makes very little money “ you’re lucky if you get fifty cents.”
The other important topic that is discussed between the women is the difficulty of saving money. A scrub woman calls it “ a kind of madness” that makes a person buy food or a pretty hat and for that moment the “ ratty, gnawing shame” is relieved. The feeling of shame is not often brought up in terms of either poverty-stricken men or women. Lesueur writes about the subject of the needs of people who suffered the most in very personal terms. The New Cases was a Communist paper. The article did show capitalism in a bad light without bringing up any discussion of politics. The plight of the women in the city’s free unemployment office demonstrated a tragic failure of the capitalistic system. The failure led to the enormity of the problems people experienced during the Great Depression.

Work Cited

Le Sueur, Meridel. “ Women on Breadlines” The New Masses 8, January 1932: 5-7. Retrieved from https://sites. google. com/site/womenduringthegreatdeperssion/home/women-on-the-breadlines