Table Topics questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"Homeward bound"
- During the Great Depression, Americans turned inward toward home and family. What does this suggest about the economy's effect on social expansion or withdrawal? Today's seniors were children at the time. Is their warm, nostalgic view of those years a true reading? Or were they too young and carefree to understand difficulties? How can we test our memories against hard evidence? In the long run, do children benefit more from family togetherness or financial security?
- There's little doubt that the '30s was a simpler age. Do you think it was safer, less materialistic, more moral and trusting--or just different in values and lifestyle? How has life gotten better and how has it gotten worse? For parents? For children? For minorities? All things considered, which time period would you rather have grown up in and why? Is your answer influenced by your gender or race?
- The Seattle Times Women's Page and a succession of "Dorothy Neighbors" columnists spoke exclusively to women and homemaking. How does The Times handle homemaking and lifestyle issues today? Are there "gender-specific" features? Columnist Virginia Boren wrote society news while encouraging volunteer and work opportunities for women, which was unusual for the time. Where else might career women look for support? Was society discriminating against working women or just being practical about job scarcity with an unwritten code of "one job per family?"
- The Centennial Page shows racially diverse family portraits in which everyone looks well-off and well-bred. In truth, the newspaper rarely published information about the area's minority families. What message did these omissions and the focus on upper classes send to readers? What experiences did families of all races, classes and occupations share during the '30s? Today The Times works hard to represent the entire community. Why is that important to a good metropolitan newspaper? Look through the paper and decide whether The Times is accomplishing that goal.
- Widespread electricity brought radio into American homes, where it was a great communicator of shared public values and culture. FDR used radio to establish an open and intimate conversation with the American people. Has the media been used as effectively by a leader since? Does modern print, radio, television and Internet media communicate a shared culture or send mixed messages? Besides advertising jingles, what cultural elements do we hold in common? Do you feel more comfortable in a society of commonly shared values or strong and diverse individualism?
- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was exceptionally involved in public life. Like Hillary Clinton today, Mrs. Roosevelt was both praised and criticized for that involvement. What's the proper role of a First Lady? Is she a role model for American women, a policy maker, a public servant, a political conduit to her husband? Or should the role be left up to her to define?
Copyright © 1996 The Seattle Times Company