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Sea Glass: Hardships During The Great Depression

1421 words - 6 pages

“’Blackest Day on Wall Street in Many Years. Selling orders Swamp New York Market. Billions quoted. Values Fade’” (Shreve 133). Similar headlines most likely splashed across most newspapers on October 30, 1929, the day after the stock market crashed. From this date, the United States entered the Great Depression, the time period where the economy was at its lowest. Although signs were present, this era came as a shockwave to most citizens because the 1920s were times of extreme economic prosper. People’s lives were completely torn from their roots. They were left without any method to make a living, but used drastic measures to survive. The people became desperate and did whatever they could to buy food on the table. Anita Shreve depicts the hardships of the Great Depression through the novel Sea Glass via the lives of Sexton Beecher, Quillen McDermott and Alphonse, Vivian Burton and Dickie Peets, and everyone’s involvement with the Communist acts of Mironson.
Sexton Beecher is married to Honora Willard and his life with her is a strong parallel to the hardships of the Great Depression. They start off mediocre economically, but are drowned in debts once the Depression hits. The couple originally stays in an abandoned home for no charge, in exchange for keeping the place tidy. Both are enamored with the house and Sexton makes an effort to buy it. He forges the documents needed. The bank barely this checks over because during the 1920s, banks gave out loans like spare change. The banks were not circumspect of their actions, nor were they aware they needed this spare change later. Once the stock market crashed, banks were forced to repeal these loans because money was tight (Brinkley 670). Due to the rapidity of the withdrawal of loans, many people were unable to pay back their loans. Unfortunately, Sexton is one of these hapless individuals. He tells the bank man, “’But I can’t raise that kind of money by next week’” (Shreve 164). Therefore, to compensate for the money, Sexton sells his pride and joy, his car, to the bank to keep the house. Also, the unemployment rate skyrocketed because of the need to save money (“The Great Depression Statistics”). Every day, waiting in line for the smallest of jobs tortured people. A firsthand account states, “I register, but they say not much chance today, maybe a week from today” (“First hand Accounts”). This demonstrates the difficulty in finding a job. After he loses his job as a salesman, “every day Sexton left the house in search for work – first seeking a job in sales, then... a position in one of the eleven mills in the city” (Shreve 201). Shreve exposes the hardships of the average man through Sexton’s lack of luck with banks and finding a job.
Quillen McDermott and Alphonse, while not blood-relatives, have a father-son relationship that must fight through the peril of the Great Depression. They are a part of the working force of the Great Depression. Both work in a mill, where the conditions were...

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