Hard Times; an Oral History of the Great Depression Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What did many of Arthur Robinson's friends say was the only reason to have money?

2. According to Doc Graham, what was the public's attitude toward figures like Machine Gun Kelly and John Dillinger in the 1930's?

3. Who were the "service department" of Detroit?

4. How many people does Terkel Interview in this introduction?

5. In what war did the Bonus marchers fight?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why was psychoanalysis largely ineffective in the Depression?

2. What resources for the transient did Ed Paulson discover during the Depression?

3. How did Yip Harburg find his way to making music?

4. What does Phyllis Mortimer do when her family falls on hard times in the 1930's?

5. What does Peggy Terry have to say about race and the Depression?

6. Why is Jerome Zerbe's interview oddly disturbing?

7. How do interviewees who were young in the 1930's realize something bad happened in the country?

8. How did William Benton make his fortune?

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

10. How was Dr. Lewis Andreas converted to union support in 1937?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The federal government went through a series of processes in its attempt to react to the 1929 crash of the stock market and to stem the sinking of the national economy. Write an essay about these attempts at governmental assistance and how they did or did not succeed:

Part 1) How did the Hoover administration react in the immediate aftermath of Black Tuesday? Discuss what sort of governmental initiatives went into place, and whether the administration succeeded in stemming the decline or allaying fears in the general populace. What unrest cropped up at this time?

Part 2) Discuss the first steps taken by the Roosevelt administration upon its arrival into office. What, specifically, was the NRA? What powers did this administrative body offer Roosevelt to place limits on the private sector? Why was the NRA preemptively shut down soon after its creation?

Part 3) How did the Works Progress Administration prove to be more effective at stemming destitution than simple relief? What did this desire of Americans for work programs say about the country's work ethic? What were some material results of the WPA?

Essay Topic 2

Among the strangest interviews in the book are those dedicated to the plight of farmers in the Midwest, in particular the sections regarding reactions to the price of corn. Write an essay about how the fluctuating price of corn led to massive wastes of foodstuffs. What did farmers do in an attempt to boost the price of corn? What other products did they turn to when the price of corn plummeted to absurdly low levels? What absurd and, later, sensible solutions did the United States government offer?

Essay Topic 3

Studs Terkel's Hard Times is an oral history, meaning that it relies entirely on the conflagration of differing ideas. By including voices that speak from different experiences of the Depression, Terkel makes the debate the central focus of the history. Write an essay on this debate in three parts:

Part 1) The topic of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's success as a president is among the most controversial in the book. What are the arguments for his saving the United States? What are the arguments against such an assertion? How do these arguments reveal the dueling ideologies in America both in the 1930's and in 1970?

Part 2) Terkel interviews individuals who suffered greatly in the Depression and those who did not, including some who actually prospered in the desperation. How do the two groups' perceptions of the 1930's differ? What facts existed to support both a horrific and a majestic impression of the Depression years?

Part 3) Terkel interviews not only those who lived through the Depression but also their children and grandchildren. How does he juxtapose the worldviews of those who survived the poverty with those who did not? How do the younger generations see the Depression? Can they understand the residual effects it left with those who survived?

(see the answer keys)

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