Changes in Attitude Over the Years

Changes in Attitude Over the Years

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Changes in Attitude Over the Years
Imagine walking down the street one day, only to be smiled at and happily greeted by each and every person you encountered. Life in the 1930s was just like this. Towns were small and everyone knew one another. Now imagine walking down a crowded, traffic-filled street, only to be pushed aside, ignored, or ridiculed. Life in the 1980s, and today, is like this. Towering skyscrapers and large houses cover the land and no one seems to have a care in the world for another person. In Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the drastic change of the lifestyles and attitudes of people between the 1930s and 1980s is clearly portrayed.
Racism was an attitude that strongly affected the lives of people during the 1930s. Although slavery had been abolished over fifty years before, groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, still existed, which led people to believe African Americans were a bad race of people. African Americans were looked down upon by anyone with a light skin color, including lighter-skinned African Americans, themselves. Clarissa, Jasper's peaches-and-cream colored daughter, was so lightly colored, she was able to ride in the main white elevator, while she was downtown. Her parents would be quite angry if they were to find out "although she was encouraged to mingle only with the lighter-skinned people, passing for a white was an unpardonable sin" (296). Clarissa's parents didn't want her to pass herself off as a white person, because she shouldn't hide the fact that she's black, while at the same time, they didn't want her seen around darker-skinned African Americans, because it was believed that the darker the skin color, the worse the person was. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr., for example, was one of the strong leaders to change the racism that existed for so many years. By the 1980s, people of all skin colors were much more accepted. Interracial dating and marriages began to grow, there were no rules about where an African American could sit, walk, or eat, and the racism which had existed in the 1930s was nearly gone. The attitude of racism, which had affected the lives of so many in the 1930s no longer affects people quite so harshly today.
Another bad attitude people had in the 1930s was towards homosexuality. The thought of a man having relations with another man, or a woman having relations with another woman, never even came to mind then.

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Society believed the man should marry the woman and the woman should serve the man. If a relationship didn't follow this belief, the people involved were chastised for going against the ways of society. When Ruth came to Whistle Stop, she and Idgie fell in love. A woman in love with another woman, something only the Threadgoode family would accept, but no one else would. When Ruth told Idgie she would be leaving for Georgia, Idgie threw the biggest fit and begged Ruth not to leave. "She had no idea when she was begging Ruth to stay and live with them what she was asking; but Ruth knew, and she realized she had to get away" (88). Ruth knew that if she stayed, instead of going home to marry the well-talked about young man she was engaged to, people would no longer think of her as such a wonderful person. Homosexuality still isn't accepted by everyone in today's society, but people became much more open about it during the 1980s and same sex marriages were soon allowed in some states. Although homosexuality is still looked down upon by some people, it is more accepted now than it ever was before.
An attitude that has grown worse and worse over time is selfishness. By the 1980s, people didn't seem to care for anyone but themselves. Nowadays, if a stranger smiles and says hello to someone else, the pepper spray is pulled out. Evelyn constantly encounters this kind of selfishness from people in her life. She happily stopped by the grocery store one day to purchase some healthy food to eat, but on her way out "a beady-eyed, mean-mouthed boy in greasy pants and a T-shirt slammed through the EXIT ONLY door and knocked Evelyn back. He brushed past and, Evelyn, still in a good mood, mumbled to herself, ‘Well, there's a nice gentleman.' The boy turned with a surly look," made a crude comment, "and went on" (232). Evelyn was in a perfectly good mood, but this boy decided to pick on her for no reason whatsoever, except for the fact that he felt like it. Evelyn couldn't believe just fifty years before, in the little town of Whistle Stop, that everyone was treated so politely every single day. In the 1930s, people were selfless and truly cared for each other. In many cases, the communities in which people lived were so small that everyone knew one another, but each person was still treated with great hospitality, unlike the way people were treated in the 1980s and today.
It's interesting to examine the differences that exist between a mere fifty years. The attitudes and lifestyles of people changed so drastically between the 1930s and 1980s. Racism came and went, homosexuality grew to be more and more accepted by society, and the once gracious behavior people showed toward others is long gone. Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe clearly showed how the positives and negatives of the past could so strongly impact the future through the attitudes and lifestyles of people.

Flagg, Fannie. Fried Green Tomatoes.
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