This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Automobile Essay

1327 words - 6 pages

Henry Ford's business model made the automobile not only affordable for the general public but also a necessity that underlined the fabric of American culture and the economy simultaneously. Throughout the 1920's, the automobile became a symbol of American prosperity and captivated the psychological interest of the general public. As automobiles became more attainable, they were viewed as an indispensable vehicle to increased mobility and ultimately freedom of choice. This newfound freedom had profound effects on Americans at the time, causing a major shift in ideals from previous decades. Individuals and society as whole experienced spontaneous freedom without immediate repercussions; ...view middle of the document...

The American public’s attitude shows that they had been so thoroughly absorbed in the automotive spectacle that they lost sight of the adverse toll Ford’s actions took on the worker’s livelihood. Sociologists Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, who focused their study on a town in Indiana, further demonstrated the change in priorities. They interviewed several working class wives who expressed: “We’d rather do without clothes than give up the car” and “I’ll go without food before I’ll see us give up the car” (Commentary, 2). These statements demonstrate the significance American families placed on automobiles, dictating their importance ahead of food and clothing for their children. This change in ideology shows the grasp the automobile had on families and how strongly it influenced their ideals at the time. This reliance exhibits the extents Americans will go to maintain a certain lifestyle, which might not seem immediately alarming but would have negative consequences in the future.
The freedom of mobility provided by the automobile at first gave Americans what seemed like autonomy over their life without foreseeable concerns, which led to increased spending as encouraged by the propagation of consumerism. For families throughout the U.S., the automobile became more than a means of faster transportation, it became a symbol of social rank. This development can be seen in an excerpt of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, Babbitt, in which a businessman discusses buying a new car with his family. Mr. Babbitt’s daughter urges her father that “everybody’s got a closed car now except us!” while his son adds, “if the Doppelbraus can afford a closed car, I guess we can” (Commentary, 8). Lewis uses satire to effectively critique the developing social standards of the time, mocking the ubiquitous conformity of individuals to these standards. This common portrayal of American values during the 1920’s shows how the automobile became a status symbol, which Americans judged each other upon, as it was the most boast-worthy possession for most at the time. This notion led to many individuals placing financial strains upon themselves to be able to afford the latest and greatest car in order to compete with their neighbors and friends. William Ashdown further characterizes this negative trend in “Confessions of an Automobilist”, stating that the “race to outdo the other fellow is a mad race indeed” (Commentary, 9). It’s important to note the author’s potential bias in the criticism as he alludes to the fact that he owns a car and it’s uncertain to which degree it has affected him personally and financially. Additionally, Ashdown notes that “the ease with which a car can be purchased on the time-payment plan is all too easy a road to ruin”, while the “habit of thrift will never be acquired through so wasteful a medium as an automobile“ (Commentary, 9). The psychological effect of the automobile is most recognizable in this cycle of increased spending as...

Find Another Essay On The Automobile

The Invention of the Automobile Essay

1855 words - 8 pages created cheaper, more powerful, and safer automobiles. Still the automobile still had numerous problems and were mainly in the hands of the rich. It was the development of the internal combustion engine and the assembly line that was truly able to create a practical vehicle that could be used by all and propelled the automobile into the heart of American culture and made it one of the most significant inventions of the post-industrial revolution era

The History of the Automobile Essay

1077 words - 4 pages Starting in the late 1700's, European engineers began tinkering with motor powered vehicles. Steam, combustion, and electrical motors had all been attempted by the mid 1800's. By the 1900's, it was uncertain which type of engine would power the automobile. At first, the electric car was the most popular, but at the time a battery did not exist that would allow a car to move with much speed or over a long distance. Even though some of the

The Rise of the Automobile

1855 words - 7 pages The Rise of the AutomobileMelissa M. JonesHistory 204Dennis MagnusonMarch 22, 2009The automobile has been a very popular item, ever since the day it was invented. Many people make them, many companies sell them and make money off them, and every consumer has one or definitely wants one. So what makes this invention so great and wanted? Well throughout this essay I would like to share the history behind this great invention.Personally I did not

The History of the Automobile

1974 words - 8 pages The automobile is an invention that has had a tremendous impact on society. The Stanley Steamer-the most successful steam car was invented in Newton Massachusetts in 1897 by Francis and Freelan Stanley. It wasn’t produced until 1924. The steam car was not a very popular device as it didn’t travel well on long distance trips it was too hard to start and there was a hazard from the open fire. Early on the electric car was the most popular type of

The Invention of the Automobile

2169 words - 9 pages I have chosen this topic because I absolutely love cars and am astonished by them. It may seem out of place for me to say this because I am a girl but I always wondered who came up with the idea of building the 1st automobile and how its changed during the time of history? What kind of people used what kind of cars? And how important it is and was during the time it was 1st introduced to the world? I know that now almost anyone who is physically

The Automobile and the Environment

2108 words - 8 pages The Automobile and the Environment In today’s society, the automobile is often stereotyped as the environmentalist’s infamous enemy. While the bases of many of these stereotypes are accurate, it is also true that the development of the auto industry has helped to improve certain conditions in our environment. With each progression of automobile technology and industry brings new and equal concerns in the realms of public safety

The Evolution of the Automobile

3579 words - 14 pages The history of the automobile dates back well over a century ago. Without cars, the world today would be quite a different place. Society would be remarkably less developed and the chores of daily life would be that much more complicated. It became, and still is, the most widely used form of transportation. Everything from the very first car has its special place in history, because the devolvement over the years has been colossal. It was a

The Physics of Automobile Accidents

585 words - 2 pages The Physics of Automobile Accidents Automobile accidents happen all around us. We see cars in the middle of the road after just rear ending each other. We see cars driving around town with big dents in them. Do you ever stop to wonder how car accidents happen? Physics; that’s how they happen. There are several aspects of physics that apply to automobile accidents. An aspect of physics that is applicable to automobile accidents is

Driven to Improvement: The Automobile

763 words - 4 pages Around the world, we live in today, there are various international commodities. Commodities are a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought, sold, or traded across the globe. One major commodity that we often over look is the automobile. From the beginning of time to present day, the need for transportation and travel has grown dramatically. From carrying goods, to being traded, to being sold in car lots for personal use

The Future in Automobile Technology

1750 words - 7 pages You are cruising down the road at 60 mph in the newest sports car; you step on the gas expecting to hear a roar from the engine, instead, you hear nothing at all. You think to yourself for a brief moment, "there must not be an engine." You know that that isn't correct as you try to re-inflate your lungs due to the g-forces that you experienced during acceleration. What in the world? Is this a dream? No, it is the future of automobile technology

Harmful Aspects of The Automobile

1148 words - 5 pages Harmful Aspects of The Automobile Air pollution refers to the presence of foreign substances in the atmosphere. Air pollution is a problem in countries where urban and population growth have been accompanied by the use of the automobile. Smog, carbon monoxide, and acid rain, are only a few of these foreign substances in the atmosphere. The negative effects these poisons have upon the environment and the human body are astronomical

Similar Essays

History Of The Automobile Essay

682 words - 3 pages Did you know that the early automobiles used levers not steering wheels? The first automobile was made in 1769 for the French army. Though, people believe that the first true automobile was made by Karl Friedrich Benz in 1885.This automobile was powered by gasoline and hade three wheels not four. The first carriage-sized automobile suitable for use on existing wagon roads in the United States was a steam powered vehicle invented in 1871, by Dr

The Automobile Industry Essay

1228 words - 5 pages The automobile today is a fun driving machine but the automobile was not always that way. There was an enormous struggle to build the first automobile. The earliest automobile was said to have been designed as early as 1335. There were all types of automobiles being designed and built. It was not until early in the 20th century that the first mass production of automobiles came about. By mid 20th century, the automobile became a "status quo" and

Concept Of The Automobile Essay

646 words - 3 pages The invention of the automobile has been one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. To mankind, it has been a definitive icon of independence and personal freedom. But with the birth of the automobile now comes the beginning of the concept vehicle.The invention started with the Tin Lizzies in the 1900's. Vehicles in the early days were produced to look the same. These vehicles looked like a box on wheels, similar to a horseless

The Automobile Industry Essay

8429 words - 34 pages Before an analysis of potential stocks for a portfolio can be undertaken, one must first analyze the environment in which the respective companies conduct their business. First, I want to elaborate on the state of the economy as a whole before I will focus specifically on the automobile industry and its particular role within the American economy at present.Economic AnalysisThe American economy is entering 1998 in its 8th year of economic