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What Belongs to Us Historical Context

Marie Howe
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Historical Context

1980s and Materialism

Howe's poem was written during the Reagan administration of the mid-1980s, when acquiring wealth and material things had become almost a religion to many Americans. Although she makes no explicit references to public historical events, the speaker does recount personal history. The nostalgia these memories illustrate, along with Howe's age, mark her as a Baby Boomer, that is, one born between 1946 and 1964 (Howe was born in 1950). In contrast to the 1960s and 1970s, decades defined by Americans' pursuit of spiritual and political action, the 1980s were characterized by an ethic focused on consumption and acquisition of material things. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the United States had experienced a recession, but pulled out of it under Reagan's policies of deregulation, which ignited a bull market. The growing economy lasted until the beginning of 2000.

Oliver Stone's film Wall Street illustrates the widespread obsession...

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This section contains 384 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our What Belongs to Us Study Guide
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What Belongs to Us from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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