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The first thing to do in answering this is to make sure that your instructor has not given you any instructions about what to write about. Have you been given no other instructions other than to write a page on this chapter? You should check to make sure there is not some specific topic or topics you are supposed to address.
If you really have no further instructions, the easiest thing to do is to write a page saying how this chapter fits in with Zinn’s overall argument in A People’s History of the United States. Zinn is, of course, a Marxist historian who sees the US as an oppressive society. He is particularly interested in class conflict, but he does pay some attention to race and sex as well.
So, you might look at how Zinn combines class-based criticism of US history and society with criticism based on sex. You could look at how he says that women in the time of the American Revolution were only celebrated if they were upper or middle class or could be made to look that way. He claims that women like “Molly Pitcher” were transformed into “ladies” so that they could be suitable as heroines. He also argues that sex and class combined to bring about the oppression of women workers in the first factories of the Lowell System.
Another thing that you might do is to look at how Zinn says that economics affected American views of women in the early 1800s. He says that women “were being pulled out of the house and into industrial life.” You might examine how he says that this changed how American men viewed women.
Finally, you might argue with Zinn. Zinn says, for example, that women were always oppressed. But then he says that the move to an economy where women were pressured to work brought about oppression. Does this mean that women were not truly oppressed prior to this change? You might also ask about the strong involvement of women in reform movements, as discussed at the end of this chapter. If women were so severely oppressed, how were they able to participate in these movements? I do not mean to argue that women were not oppressed and subjugated during this time. Instead, I mean to suggest that you might critique Zinn’s argument, arguing that he does not sufficiently explain how much women were subjugated and how/why they had chances to break out of that subjugation.
Any of these topics might provide enough for you to work with for a one-page paper.
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