1920s Dbq Essay

545 Words3 Pages
The 1920s was a decade of extreme tension between new, change-based attitudes and old, nostalgic attitudes. These viewpoints often clashed throughout the era. These tensions represent themselves in many different facets of American culture. In general, moderns criticized the traditional ideas, the traditionalists criticized the modern ideas, and the moderates tried to reconcile the two. One major cause of the growing strain between traditional and modern ideologies was the growing gap between socioeconomic classes. Many groups, like the farmers and urban workers, were left out of the middle-class prosperity of the decade. Other groups were culturally excluded. The 1920 census was the first in which more people lived in the cities than on farms. These people insisted on reforms that they felt would return them to “normalcy”, like immigration restrictions and prohibition. Sinclair Lewis’ excerpt in Document A highlights this growing rift between classes. His portrayal of Babbit, a middle class man, as a conformist with no ideas of his own displays Lewis’ dissatisfaction toward Americans who blindly conform to traditional ideologies (Doc. A). Contrasting this bleak view of the middle class is Joseph Stella’s The Bridge (Doc. B). By illustrating the Brooklyn Bridge similar to a stain-glass window, Stella emphasizes his quasi-religious love for the technological developments of the middle class of the era. The Brooklyn Bridge was built in the late nineteenth century and was widely regarded as a marvel. Religion also provided a stage for new and old ideas to collide. Modernist thinkers believed religion could adapt to accept new scientific advances, especially Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Traditionalists did not. They considered religion to be fixed and condemned Darwin’s work. The most notable instance of this conflict is the Scopes Trial. In it John
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