What were common themes in 1920s movies and literature?

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The 1920s was a time of great social change, including changes in women's roles, the roles of African-Americans in society, and technological change. Many works of literature and movies concentrated on the themes of social change and defining people in new ways during this period. 

Classic books and other works from the decade include F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which focuses on the changing nature of social classes. Gatsby, the main character, is a self-made man, and, in common with many protagonists from the period, he tries to create a new definition of himself and his role in society. Works of the Harlem Renaissance, such as the poems of Langston Hughes (including "The Negro Speaks of Rivers") focus on pride in African-American identity and a new self-definition of African-Americans as distinctive and connected both to Africa and America. Ernest Hemingway's novels often deal with Americans who are trying to find themselves in the post-war world (after World War I) and who are without a sense of direction or belonging. For example, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises is about a group of expatriate Americans in Europe.

Movies from the decade also focus on the theme of self-definition. For example, the Jazz Singer from 1927 (the first "talkie" that used sound) is about the son of a Jewish cantor who defies his family's tradition to become a jazz singer. Other movies, such as Our Dancing Daughters from 1928, are about the modern woman, the so-called "flapper." The 1920s was a fast-moving decade involving a great deal of change, and this change is reflected in the movies and books of the time.

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