American Life in the “Roaring Twenties,” 1919–1929
III: Applying What You Have Learned
1. How and why did America
turn toward domestic isolation and social conservatism in the 1920s?
2. How was the character of American culture affected by the
social and political changes of the 1920s? (Include both white ethnic groups
and blacks in your discussion.)
3. Why was immigration, which had been part of American experience
for many generations, seen as such a great threat to American identity and
culture in the prosperous 1920s? How did the severe and discriminatory
immigration restriction laws passed in the 1920s affect the country?
4. Why did critics, like Horace Kallen and Randolph Bourne,
dislike the pressure on immigrants to Americanize and join the melting pot? What
kind of future America
did their ideals of cultural pluralism promote. Why was this view not widely
accepted in the 1920s?
5. How did the Eighteenth Amendment outlawing
alcohol both reflect and deepen the cultural divisions in the United States, including
6. How did some of the major public events of the
1920s reflect national disagreements over fundamental social, cultural, and
7. How did the automobile and other new products create a
mass-consumption economy in the 1920s?
8. How did the new films, literature, and music of
the 1920s affect American values in areas of religion, sexuality, and family
9. How and why did African Americans in the
Harlem Renaissance and elsewhere begin celebrating racial pride and the New
Negro in the 1920s? Was Marcus Garvey’s movement to encourage black migration
to Africa an expression of that same spirit or
a reflection of the still-harsh oppression that most blacks experienced?
10. In what ways were the twenties a vigorous social
and cultural reaction against the progressive movement in the decades leading
up to World War I (see Chapters 29, 30, and 31)? Was this hostility to
progressivism primarily a result of disillusionment with the outcome of the war
or a reflection of the limits of progressive reform itself?