The book Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era by Elaine Tyler May illustrates the point that there exists a domestic version of the term containment. Containment was a policy in the United States, which was aimed at preventing the spread of communism abroad. Elaine Tyler May asserts that there is a domestic version of containment and the sphere of influence is the home. Therefore, the book highlights the emergence of domestic containment and describes its effect on people of America during the Cold War period. Key themes discussed in the book include the Cold War, cultural history, gender issues, consumerism, suburbanization, and domesticity. This paper discusses key themes highlighted in the book Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era.
The book talks about suburban domesticity and anticommunism. It begins by highlighting domestic containment that happened in the 1930s and 1940s in America. The author describes the manner in which the roles were shared out between a man and a woman during the Depression. The book discusses two key views of the family that seemed to be in competition. For instance, it highlights the view a family with two breadwinners where couples shared tasks and there was another one where couples had different calculated roles. It explains the living standards of most American families during the Cold War period and the challenges that they faced. Furthermore, it explains how the Cold War was both a prison and a liberator to the citizens of America. This is explained in relation to the cultural aspects of these families such as sex and marriage. The book ends with the assertion that the Cold War ideology and the domestic ideology in the American families rose and ultimately fell together.
First, the book discusses the theme of the Cold War. Ideas presented in the book revolve around the events of the Cold War era. According to the book, the Cold War period was characterized by political and military tensions between Western countries led by the United States of America. May (2008) asserts that the United States was opposed to communist ideas promoted by the Soviet Union. Therefore, it did not want such ideas to spread among its population. This resistance enhanced the intensity of the Cold War that existed between these two states. The Cold War characterized the rivalry between the ideology of capitalism, which aimed to promote poverty among individuals, and communism that was an economically empowering tool. The author asserts that baby boom did not start during the Cold War but could have started earlier during World War II. This was to dispel the notion that baby boom was only brought about by peace and affluence that prevailed in the United States during the Cold War period. The purpose of the book is to highlight the living standards of American families during the Cold War Period. The perspective of author is that the domestic ideologies determined the living standards of most American families.
Another vital theme discussed in the book is the theme of domesticity. The author points out that domestic containment emanated from existing aspirations and fears that existed in America after the war. There was a need to contain all internal threats in order to achieve maximum security in the United States. Domesticity aimed at taming dangerous social forces that were perceived to exist in the United States in order to ensure that they were part of aspirations that post-war women and men had desired. Ideology of domesticity directly linked to another existing ideology of geopolitics, which related to the Cold War. The United States did not want its citizens to adopt a single idea relating to communism because this could destroy the entire country. Therefore, authorities were careful to contain existing internal social threats that could lead to any state of insecurity.
The theme of consumerism is in the book. Consumerism is the protection of consumers in the economy with an aim to ensure that they get quality products at the most favorable prices. Traders are prohibited to act in a manner that hurts consumers hence denying them the opportunity to make wise purchases. May asserts that consumerism policies came in place during the period of the Great Depression. Most of the citizens were encouraged to consume commodities in large quantities despite of the effects of the Depression. Authorities were in charge of ensuring that consumers of all kinds of commodities got the best products during this difficult time. This increased consumption levels among most Americans as well as enhanced the baby boom that was happening in most parts of the country. Policies ensured that most Americans were able to survive during these hard economic times.
The theme of gender is another key theme discussed in the book. May asserts that there was gender inequality in America during that time. Policies formulated during the New Deal did not help to alleviate the existing gender inequality and change existing cultural perspectives towards gender. The author points out that most men had gone to fight in World War II hence leading to the large-scale entrance of women into the job market. This trend was supposed to boost the level of equality between the genders. However, it but was short lived after the return of men from war. The 1950s marriage tendency seemed to bring about the idea of dual breadwinner as some women succeeded in their careers and earned adequate funds to take care of their families. Rights of women were later agitated through the Women’s Movement that demanded for gender equality.
The book discusses the theme of cultural history. The culture of the individuals living in America has been discussed in the book in detail. Cultural history revolves around sexual behavior and marriage in the United States of America. May asserts that there was a rising belief among people that a healthy marriage strengthens through healthy sex. Most of the people were restricted from engaging in pre-marital sex. This aims at regulating the baby boom in most American cities. May (2008) notes that regulation of sexual behavior in the society was not the only way in which women could achieve prosperity and freedom. They needed strong policies to protect them because most of cultural assertions did not favor them. Therefore, cultural assertions focused on family and sexuality rather than on involvement in sexual activities out of wedlock.
The book highlights the theme of suburbanization. There was increased suburbanization as the nation experienced dramatic increase of population. This happened due to the baby boom that was happening all over the United States of America. The Kinsey Studies indicate that most of the people were poor and could not afford proper housing hence resorting to the suburban areas. The population living in suburbs involves black women who had no opportunity to attend the school. Most of them did not have jobs, and those who were lucky to have jobs earned low wages. The suburban life rises due to capitalism that had been adopted by the United States of America. It signified class separation among citizens in the US. More so, the rise of suburbanization was indicative of the immense population growth that the United States was experiencing during the Cold War period.
In conclusion, the book Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era clearly illustrates the point that there is a domestic version of the term containment. The author highlights several key themes in the book hence illustrating the kind of life that most Americans led during the Cold War period. The theme of the Cold War illustrates the nature of the conflict between Western countries as well as perceived causes of the enmity. Domesticity indicates the efforts involved in containing internal threats that could shake internal security. The theme of consumerism used in the book to shows the protection of American consumers during the period of Cold War and Depression. The theme of suburbanization illustrates living standards of most poor and middle class Americans during the period of the Cold War. The culture of Americans discussed in the book is a vital theme in tracing sexual attitudes and perceptions about families in America during the Cold War.