What impact did the Great Depression have on the people?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most profound impacts of the Great Depression was the feeling of helplessness that was dominant across America.  Simply put, Americans felt helpless about everything.  For a nation that was coming off of a victory in World War I and a decade of the 1920s where freedom and autonomy were at unprecedented levels, the Great Depression years were complete reversals of fortune.  The struggles that everyone felt on all levels were real and palpable.  Families having to sell off possessions or reduced to living lives that were vastly different and extremely tough was not an isolated predicament.  The breakup of families, with men feeling shame at not being able to find work or to provide for their families, the soup kitchens and the clamoring for work, any work, made life extremely difficult and painful.  We now are able to marvel at national character in terms of endurance, but there is little doubt that such a time period had to have a profoundly painful psychological effect on anyone conscious of it at the time and having to live through it.  The photography of the time reflect this sense of forlornness and despondency that gripped the nation, a realization that nothing would help and having to face such a reality.