A Great Day Historical Context

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The Great Depression

New Zealand was badly affected by the Great Depression. In the early to mid-1930s, unemployment reached 12 percent (including Ken and Fred in "A Great Day"); the national income fell 40 percent from 150 million NZD (New Zealand dollars) to 90 million NZD, and the value of exports also fell by 40 percent. The government was forced to cut pensions, education, health, and public works. Unemployed men were sent to rural camps to work on low-capital, labor-intensive tasks that paid a pittance.

Sargeson's early stories provide vivid insight into what life was like in New Zealand for many during the depression. In "Cow-Pats," for example, a young boy and his siblings work on a farm, but their old boots leak so much that their mother tells them they would be better off if they did not wear them at all. In "An Attempt at an Explanation," a young mother...

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This section contains 820 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Great Day Study Guide
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A Great Day from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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