The Fifties

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The Fifties The 1950s are characterized as a decade marked by the Cold War and social conformity. It is hard to generalize the lives of millions of Americans, but the values of Americans in the fifties were shaped by two major events: the Great Depression and World War II. After a period of war and poverty conforming to a suburban way of life was a dream come true for Americans. The 1950s almost inevitably invoke an image of the so called "traditional" nuclear family portrayed in famous TV shows like "Happy Days." In this "golden age" of the family, happily married men and women lived in suburban homes raising families. Women gleefully fulfilled their roles as mothers and wives while men contently worked to provide for their families. Everyone--men, women, and children were healthy and satisfied. The nuclear family of the 1950s arose due to particular circumstances involving both America’s past and its future. The 1950s nuclear family differed from previous conceptions of the family in America. Of course, circumscribed gender roles were not new; they had always been around and were particularly reinforced during Victorian times. But the definition of the nuclear family in the 1950s went beyond the concept of the breadwinner husband and homemaker wife. Men found in demeaning for their wives to be working. Women who were in the workforce left because of this concept and fulfill the dreams of motherhood, which required the women’s full-time attention. For the first time in history, Americans were expected to find all their satisfaction and pleasure in the home. Instead of just prosperity, the definition of the American Dream expanded to include the family; the dream became profoundly domestic. The American Dream previo... ... middle of paper ... ...by an increase in automobiles and highways. I spoke with my grandfather, who also agreed that the fifties were a happy time. My grandfather said, “With such a long period of war and depression, the fifties were like a new and refreshing start.” He said that he finally felt okay with settling down and starting a family in this time. He Of course not all families were as perfect as the Cunningham’s and not everyone had a friend like Arthur Fonzerelli, but the fifties were a time where family was the most important thing and changes took place. The civil Rights movement began which eventually succeeded and provided equal rights for all. People weren’t scared to fight for what they wanted and that proved that America finally began to flourish socially economically, and politically. Bibliography: Kallen, Stuart A. The 1950s. Greenhaven Press Inc. 2000

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