Hard Times; an Oral History of the Great Depression Short Essay - Answer Key

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Short Essay Questions Key

1. How does Terkel explain his purposes in writing Hard Times?

In the Introduction of Hard Times, Terkel explains his reason for conducting the interviews in this book: those who lived through the Depression are loath to speak of it. For this purpose, he includes the voices of younger people who know little of the hard times.

2. How did the effects of the Crash become apparent in Terkel's parents' business?

Terkel's parents ran a hotel called the Wells-Grand, which was populated largely by working folks. After the Crash of 1929, the lobby of the business was less lively. There was more betting on horse-racing, and fights seemed to break out for no reason. Soon, relief checks began replacing cash as the primary means to pay rent on the rooms.

3. How did blues and alcohol play a defining role in Terkel's college years?

During the Depression, Studs Terkel attended the University of Chicago. He often felt the need to escape the college area; so, he traveled the Black Belt learning about the blues. During this time, also, Prohibition was repealed, and Terkel began to frequent the new trendy taverns that opened, where every third beer was on the house.

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