Tension in the Roaring Twenties


New ideas and beliefs have always led to tension between old and new. A struggle between traditional values and those of an evolving culture arise due to the advancements of technology, and the general perception of an easier, faster way of doing things. This was especially true in the decade of the 1920’s. New social and political movements took place, as a younger generation began to voice its opinion. However, older generations began to see these ideas as threatening, even disgraceful at times. With the evolving role of women, new religious and cultural ideas, rapidly developing technology, and artists and writers swaying from traditional styles and beliefs, tension became greater than ever.
After World War I, a sense of cherishing life and living for the moment was popular among the younger generation. Wild parties, heavy drinking and smoking became popular fads during a time of Prohibition. A lack of respect and no concern for monogamous relationships directly contrasted traditional beliefs. Younger crowds began to “live for the moment”, disregarding the consequences. Divorce rates increased dramatically, while marriages decreased (Document H). New ideas on social relationships created a sense of tension between these ideas and those of the older generations, of loyalty and respect for others.
Religion became a controversial topic, as younger crowds began to flee from the ideas of the Bible as being the direct words of God (Document C). Women also began to play a higher role in the church, starting organizations, such as the W.C.T.U., and preaching (Documents G and I). Even though traditional beliefs said that women had no place in the church, women such as Mrs. McPherson challenged ideas, again creating a tension between old and new.
Technological advances such as the automobile, clothes washers and dryers, and other such appliances made life easier, reducing the need for women only as housewives. To adapt, women began leading lives of their own, wearing clothing considered outrageous decades before their time, and relaxing the pressure they felt for being a housewife. Traditions of being solely responsible and bound to the house were abolished, and women began taking jobs out of the house. Women also began to lead dominating roles in relationships, which was unheard of at the time. This also created a tension between older women and their daughters and granddaughters.
Finally artists and writers of the time began to use new ideas of individualism, and reconstructed the ideas of the old with those of the new. Much like the works of Joseph Stella, old ideas were mixed, and even overtaken, with the new (Document B). New thoughts gave creation to some of the greatest writers and works of the world. Even thought it was a new style, it was a style which fit the time.
Tension in the Roaring Twenties was created in many ways, and exhibited in more. New beliefs were a direct contrast of those of the old, but such is expected in changing times. When technology advances faster than an environment can handle it, some type of tension will result. Introducing new ideas can always have a negative impact, but positive sides to the ideas also create new advantages, which can create an easier, simpler life for all.