Mildred Pierce and the Domestic Role of Women in the 1930's
Women’s place in society during the 1930’s was very different compared to the role that women have in today’s society. Fortunately, these days women are free to decide what type of jobs to have when to marry and when to have children.
Unfortunately during the thirties women did not have these choices. According to Mary Kinnear in her book Daughter of Time, “In the United States the proportion of women workers engaged in professional work increased only from 11.9 percent to 14.2 percent between 1920 and 1940.” During this time, the role of housewives meant that they were responsible for most of the household duties and taking care of the children. Ann Oakley said in her book Woman’s Work, “In the social image of a woman, the roles of wife and mother are not distinct from the role of housewife.”
This was the role that the character Mildred Pierce played in the Mildred Pierce novel until she discovered that she could do better than being a housewife. Her talent in the kitchen became the asset to her success. When Mildred discovered that she was good in the kitchen, and specially at baking pies and cakes she took this as the first opportunity to sell her cakes to her friends.
The cakes that Mildred baked were not the ordinary cakes that sold on the marketplace. Her cakes had the extra touch that made people admire them. They were so beautiful and delicious that the orders increased as well as her confidence. She knew that baking cakes could lead her to have a better future as a businesswoman. Her second opportunity came while working in a restaurant where she knew that this could be a great place to get to be known for her talent in baking delicious pies while at the same time increasing her income. Mildred began doing favors for some of her co-workers, and this allowed her to help her introduce her pies at work. Of course the success came slowly but Mildred started to become well known for her delicious pies.
Mildred’s talents in the kitchen took her to bigger and more prosperous success by allowing her to open her own restaurant. Her menu consisted of her own delicious chicken recipe, waffles, and of course her pies. Her restaurant became so prosperous that sometimes people would wait to be seated. One of her waiters would say, “Two fours just come in, Mrs. Pierce. I got room for one but what do I do with the other?” The good service along with the great chicken and pies made her restaurant well known in the neighborhood of Glendale CA.