In Baker’s memoir, Growing Up, financial struggles as a result of his father’s death (economic instability), as well as everyday meals with Baker’s family, and celebrating Americanizes festivities (family lives) were all disturbed by the economic turmoil, resulting In alterations to Bakers lifestyle on various levels. During the early sass, the unemployment rate sky-rocketed by the millions, starting from less than 3 million in 1929 to 12. 5 million by 1932, causing total incomes for most families to drop (Mint and McNeil).
Since there was a decrease in total income for most citizens, the economy hit its all-time-low. In Growing Up, the death of Baker’s father when he was only five years of age took a toll on himself and his family financial stature. “After that [father’s death] I never cried with any real conviction. Nor expected much of anyone’s god except indifference. Nor loved deeply without fear that it would cost me dearly in pain. At the age of five I had become a skeptic and began to sense that any happiness that came my way might be the prelude to some grim cosmic joke. (Baker, 61). His father’s absence caused Baker to begin a paper route for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. This created immeasurable discomfort for Russell, having to “[experience] the routine miseries of childhood” (Baker, 75), and for his mother, Lucy, because “for the first time In her life she needed charity” (Baker, 84). The Great Depression wasn’t desolation to only those of the lower class, but was the embodiment of unmitigated barrenness to most classes. Baker saw his Uncle Allen’s ownership of two suits as an utter luxury in his eyes.
Also, one episode of a fellow citizen “tongue lashing’ and “storming back to the souse” after being given the wrong amount of change at a local newspaper stand marks the Intensity and vicious attitudes toward the detrimental loss of personal possessions In the sass (Baker, 70). These Instances exemplified Just how high the American economic instability was during the early 1 sass, but also conveyed how the drops in incomes and financial successes was the ultimate factor of Americans changing mindsets through the Great Depression era (Mint and McNeil A).
Through Baker’s memoir, Baker recounted numerous episodes with his family and the alterations that were taken to survive the Great Depression. He described an evening dinner discussion at his uncle Allen’s apartment, as he enjoyed “one of Uncle served fried chicken and candied sweet potatoes, while millions Americans forced themselves to eat scraps on the streets and in the trash for their only chance of survival. In other words, he found himself indulging at a time when indulgence was almost unheard of.
This season of desperation aided in depleted food sources and meal options for millions of Americans because they could not afford it, so it exhibited the changes in lifestyles American families were forced to encounter Baker, 133). The Great Depression, in many ways, was the leading factor to the nation’s lack of enthusiasm about many universal celebrations, including Christmas. Another way that family life in Growing Up affected people’s everyday lives was the way people celebrated these holidays. The country was at a stand still, a frozen period where happy occasion suddenly was no longer existent.
Baker’s perception of Christmas was always a time of celebration and special forbearance’s. Christmas Eve was spent “in frenzies of baking” (Baker, 205), and the dinner “was a ritual meal at which the enterprise was always oysters” (Baker, 205). These descriptions of what Baker understood as a special circumstance can connect the true hardships taken on by Americans from his description of what Christmas had always meant to him and the description of what had transpired on Christmas Day during the Depression era.
He was “overwhelmed by the discovery that [his mother] had squandered such money on [him]” (Baker, 204). The now damaged financial and economic standing of the country turned the American holiday season and Baker’s Christmas presents to be extravagant and out of his mother’s reach to afford. Analyzing Baker’s personal encounters and characterizations in his autobiography exposed the hardships expressed by Baker during the Depression.
The particular hindrances that were brought by the economic instability were everyday routines, family life, individual lifestyles, and extravagances of most Americans. The examples given above express the ideas and attitudes in the sass towards the profound changes that took place to illustrate the vastly difficult Journey millions of Americans took. Baker exemplifies that of a strong-willed man having suffered through this time of hardship after enduring extreme alterations to everyday living.