RCC Honors History Project

Besides This, What Else is going on in America?

Posted by mcelynrh on March 15, 2009

One thought that always seems to linger on my mind while reading books such as How the Other Half Lives is “what else is going on during this time?” For the most part, when reading historical narratives we know the time period and the important events that occurred in America. It is obvious that the author most likely will not include events that are irrelevant but it would be nice if they could tie in facts that are. For example, Riis states that “the children of the poor grow up in joyless homes to lives of wearisome toil that claims them at an age when the play of their happier fellows has but just begun.” I want to know who those “happier fellows” are. What do they do in their spare time? Are their parents from the middle class or part of the elites in America? It doesn’t have to be a long section based on just that.

I also understand that Riis’s point was to write on the other half, which he does a good job at and puts out there that there is more to contrast than to compare with the other half. In my belief his argument would have been stronger if he had included that stark disparity of the more well to do “natives” of America and the immigrant poor, though that’s just my opinion.


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