Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties

Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties

Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties

Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties

Excerpt

"'The trouble with you, Jenny Blair, is that you do not know the first thing about life. It is only by knowing how little life has in store for us that we are able to look on the bright side and avoid disappointment.'"

"'Oh, grandfather, I didn't mean anything,' she cried, as she sank down into blackness. 'I didn't mean anything in the world.'"

ELLEN GLASGOW, The Sheltered Life

THE WORLD of shabby gentility is like no other; its sacrifices have less logic, its standards are harsher, its relation to reality is dimmer than comfortable property or plain poverty can understand.

It is certainly better in the eyes of the world to be born one of the shabby-genteel than one of the simply shabby. The product of straitened gentility enters a society that flows upward or downward but at least does not stand still for him. But that society has its special rules for him and they leave their mark; he does not have either the options or the margins for error other men have. In its peculiar way, society is quite tolerant of the young man of shabby gentility. It assumes that he comes of good, though not fortunate, stock. It knows his father's name--recollects it at least --and it has confidence in his mother's standards. For he is especially fortunate if he has a mother with the capacity to be society's censor and to tell him with whom he can afford to play; to remind him that he has been put into the world to better his . . .

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