As seen in previous blog posts, much of Arthurs memoir focuses on his childhood. However towards the end, we also see snapshots of his adolesscence with a whole chapter dedicated to a prominent New Years Eve party he attended when he was 15. This gives an interesting insight to the party spirit which gave the 20’s its unique and memorable ‘roaring’ feel.
The party, which Arthur reluctantly attends due to his shy nature was hosted by a family of similar class to the Jacobs. During the party, the reader witnesses the group playing games such as Charades and dancing the ‘two step’ to the gramophones music.
The 1920s, also known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’, was a decade of contrasts. The First World War had ended in victory, peace had returned and with it, prosperity. For some the war had proved to be very profitable. Manufacturers and suppliers of goods needed for the war effort had prospered throughout the war years and become very rich. This reflected in the countries consumerism, with people wanting and buying more, a contrast to the rationing seen by the Jacobs family in my War and Memory post which I will link below. The party Arthur documents echoes this feel and time, however on a smaller scale. I feel it is a good representation of how working class people could adopt the roaring 20’s lifestyle, however doing it though means they could obtain. Instead of music blaring out a top range gramophone and fancy food and drink being consumed, Arthur remembers there being ‘sandwiches and jam tarts’ (187), and dancing the Waltz with Joan over and over again. It is nice to see how Arthur and his family were celebrating after the hardship they experienced during World War I.
During this party, Arthur also documents his thoughts on girls and relationships at the time of being an adolescent. At the party, he meets a girl, Joan who he very much gets along with. Because of this, this boasts his confidence and goes from not enjoying the party to not wanting to leave. However, as much young love goes him and joan do not end up being together and he sees little of her after the party. He remembers feeling ‘disappointed’ (191) because of this, which shows his naivety despite him believing this was the girl for him. It is almost bittersweetly comical if an older person were to read, as all of us remember going through something similar at some point in our lives. However, Arthur does recognise this stating how they were, ‘both too young to know what it was all about’ (198).
Upon reading, Arthur nearly gets caught up within his own memory, using first tense when, ‘Joan’s cheek is rosy’ (198) before correcting himself and stating how, ‘I nearly got taken away myself there’. I felt this was a sweet aspect of Arthurs memoir as he, along with us is being taken on a journey of his life, our only difference is that he has already lived it and we are learning about it.