A4 English II
11 November 2013
Dependence on Others
The Great Depression is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult times in American history. Over one-fourth of the nation’s workforce was unemployed. During this time, more people than ever were dependent on others for survival. This economic miserable time lasted for approximately ten years. The struggles of the Great Depression are demonstrated in Edgar Harburg’s poem “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” as well as President Roosevelt’s “Inaugural Address of the President,” and John Steinbeck’s book, Of Mice and Men. Each of these demonstrates how dependent on others many people were during the Great Depression.
During this time period, people would go from job to job, usually with very little pay. Those who weren’t lucky enough to be employed were dependent on friends, family, and even strangers for survival. One man, Edgar Harburg, had a firsthand account of the economic struggles of the Great Depression. He wrote the poem “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” to show the reliance on others when jobs were scarce. He writes “Once I build a railroad, now it’s done; ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’” This sentence is demonstrating the dead end jobs that would leave a man desperate for money. It certainly wasn’t uncommon for someone to ask for money during the Great Depression.
Another person who knew about the constant reliance on others during the Great Depression was President Roosevelt. In his speech, Roosevelt says, “If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward.” American citizens during the Great Depression were beginning to realize that selfish actions would not rid the nation of its economic problems. According to Roosevelt, the very concept of dependence on others is what would help America get back on its feet.
John Steinbeck’s book Of Mice and Men also demonstrates the idea of dependence on others. The two main characters are George and Lennie, a couple of average men trying to make a living during the Great Depression. George is very different from Lennie. George is responsible and clever, while Lennie lacks the brains to survive a week on his own. Lennie follows