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                                                             On Prohibition

The novels  Appointment In Samarra and BUtterfield 8, respectively set in 1930 and 1931, the first and second years of the Great Depression, describe considerable, excessive drinking.

The Volstead Act (1920-1933) outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages.

In the short story Imagine Kissing Pete, it's December 1930, in Gibbsville. Jim Malloy and Bobbie Hammersmith McCrea are in her mother-in-law's house. Here are John O'Hara's thoughts expressed through Jim Malloy.

We had come to our maturity and our knowledgeability during the long decade of cynicism that was usually dismissed as "a cynical disregard of the law of the land," but that was something else, something deeper. The law had been passed with a "noble" but nevertheless cynical disregard of men's right to drink. It was a law that had been imposed on some who took pleasure in drinking by some who did not. And when the law was an instant failure, it was not admitted to be a failure by those who had imposed it. They fought to retain the law in spite of its immediate failure and its proliferating corruption, and they fought as hard as they would have for a law that had been an immediate success...Prohibition, the zealots' attempt to force total abstinence on a temperate nation, made liars of a hundred million men and cheats on their children...We had grown up and away from our earlier esteem of God and country and valor, and had matured at a moment when riches were vanishing for reasons that we could not understand. We were the losing, not the lost, generation.

1 comment:

RGK said...

It's this documenting of the time that makes O'Hara's fiction so rewarding.