An Overview of the Great Depression CommonLit Answer Key

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  • 7th Grade
  • Lexile: 1020

Source: An Overview of the Great Depression by Jessica McBirney

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: Which of the following identifies the central idea of the text?The Great Depression was a very difficult time for America, and the government took action to help the economy recover.
PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“In 1932, near the worst of the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. He immediately started working to fix the problems. The set of policies and government programs he instituted are known as the New Deal.” (Paragraph 15)
What does the word “extensive” most likely mean as used in paragraph 12?

concealed
limited
probable
widespread
widespread
How does the section “Culture Amid Crisis” contribute to the development of ideas in the text? (Paragraphs 19-22)It shows how important entertainment was to Americans, as well as how it was affected by the Great Depression.
How did President Roosevelt influence the recovery from the Great Depression?He created programs that helped citizens find work.

How does the description of the government’s actions during the Great Depression contribute to the development of ideas in the text?

The description of the government’s actions during the Great Depression contributes to the development of ideas in the text by providing a clear example of how the government responded to an unprecedented economic crisis. This description likely serves several purposes in the text:

  1. Illustrating Government Intervention in Crisis: It showcases the role and responsibility of the government in managing large-scale economic crises, highlighting how governmental policies and actions can directly impact the nation’s economy and the welfare of its citizens.
  2. Contextualizing the Great Depression: The government’s actions help to frame the severity and scope of the Great Depression.
    By detailing the extent of government intervention, the text underscores the magnitude of the crisis and the challenges faced by the nation.
  3. Explaining Economic Recovery: The description likely contributes to an understanding of how the United States began to recover from the Great Depression.
    It provides insight into the specific strategies employed, such as job creation programs, financial reforms, and public works projects, offering a historical perspective on economic recovery tactics.
  4. Setting a Precedent for Future Policy: The government’s response to the Great Depression often serves as a reference point for later economic policies and interventions.
    The text may use this historical example to discuss or imply how similar strategies could be applied in contemporary settings or future crises.
  5. Reflecting on Social and Political Impacts: The actions of the government during this time can also be used to discuss broader social and political implications, such as the shift towards a more interventionist state and the impact on American society and politics.

Overall, the description of the government’s actions during the Great Depression contributes to the text by providing historical context, illustrating the role of government in economic crises, explaining the methods of economic recovery, and setting the stage for discussions on the lasting impacts of these actions.

Discussion Answers

Do you think that President Roosevelt’s policies were the right choices to help America? What else should he have done, or not done, to help America? Explain your opinion.

President Roosevelt’s policies, particularly the New Deal, are widely regarded as pivotal in helping America recover from the Great Depression. These policies focused on what’s known as the “Three Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.

Relief programs provided immediate aid to suffering Americans, Recovery programs sought to revitalize the economy, and Reform measures aimed to prevent future economic crises.

Strengths of Roosevelt’s Policies:

  1. Job Creation: Programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided millions of jobs, which was crucial in combating the high unemployment rate.
  2. Banking and Financial Reforms: The Emergency Banking Act and the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) helped restore public confidence in the banking system.
  3. Social Security Act: Introduced in 1935, it provided a safety net for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled, representing a significant step in the development of the American welfare state.

Areas of Controversy or Suggested Improvements:

  1. Delayed Emphasis on Fiscal Stimulus: Some economists argue that Roosevelt could have focused more on fiscal stimulus earlier. The initial reliance on balancing the budget might have delayed economic recovery.
  2. Inequality Issues: While the New Deal helped many, it didn’t fully address racial and gender inequalities. For instance, many programs initially excluded or discriminated against African Americans and other minorities.
  3. Agricultural Adjustments: The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) helped reduce crop surpluses and raise crop prices, benefiting farmers, but it also led to the destruction of some crops and livestock at a time when many were hungry.
  4. Long-Term Economic Impacts: Some critics argue that the New Deal expanded federal government power excessively and laid the groundwork for future government overspending.

In summary, while Roosevelt’s policies were instrumental in addressing the immediate crises of the Great Depression and reshaping the American economic landscape, some aspects have been subject to debate.

They could have been more inclusive and perhaps more aggressively focused on economic stimulation from the outset. It’s also important to recognize the historical context in which these decisions were made; Roosevelt was navigating uncharted waters, and some of the lessons learned from the New Deal have influenced how governments worldwide respond to economic crises.


In the context of the text, how has America changed over time? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

In the context of the text, which appears to focus on the Great Depression and the recovery efforts led by President Roosevelt, the changes in America over time can be observed in several key areas.

These changes can be understood through a combination of historical evidence from the text, broader historical context, and cultural expressions through literature and art.

Economic Policies and Government Intervention:

  1. Great Depression Era: The text likely describes America’s struggle with the Great Depression and the subsequent government intervention through the New Deal. This period marked a significant shift in the federal government’s role in the economy, from a laissez-faire approach to a more interventionist role.
  2. Post-Depression Developments: Over time, America has continued developing its economic policies, reflecting lessons from the Great Depression. The establishment of welfare programs, unemployment insurance, and social security during the New Deal laid the foundation for modern social safety nets.

Cultural Shifts:

  1. Literature and Art: The Great Depression inspired a wave of literature and art that reflected the struggles and resilience of the American people. Works like John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” or Dorothea Lange’s photography captured the human aspect of economic hardship. Over time, American literature and art have continued to evolve, often reflecting and influencing societal changes.
  2. Music: The text mentions the rise of swing music and big band genres during the Great Depression. Music has always been a reflection of the times, evolving to reflect the cultural, social, and political changes in America.

Social and Political Changes:

  1. Civil Rights and Equality: Although the New Deal had limitations in terms of racial and gender equality, subsequent decades saw significant strides in civil rights, gender equality, and social justice, influenced by both political movements and cultural shifts.
  2. Technological Advancements: The technological advancements since the Great Depression have drastically changed American life, from the way people work to how they communicate and consume media.

Personal and Contemporary Observations:

  1. Economic Resilience: America has faced several economic downturns since the Great Depression, including the recent global financial crises. The resilience and adaptability of its economy can be partially attributed to the foundations laid during the New Deal era.
  2. Ongoing Challenges: Issues like income inequality, racial disparities, and political divisions continue to challenge America, indicating areas where the nation is still evolving and adapting.

In summary, America has undergone significant changes since the Great Depression, marked by shifts in economic policy, cultural expressions, social norms, and technological advancements.

The resilience and adaptability observed during the Great Depression have continued to characterize American society, even as it faces new and ongoing challenges.


In the context of the text, does money buy happiness? To what extent do you believe America was a completely unhappy place during the Great Depression?

In the context of a text focusing on the Great Depression, the question of whether money buys happiness is complex and multifaceted.

The Great Depression was a period of severe economic hardship, high unemployment, and widespread poverty, which undoubtedly impacted the happiness and well-being of many Americans.

However, assessing the overall happiness of America during this time requires a nuanced understanding of how economic conditions interact with human emotions and societal values.

Economic Hardship vs. Happiness:

  1. Impact of Poverty: The economic hardships of the Great Depression caused significant stress and suffering. In this context, money was a critical factor in securing basic needs like food, shelter, and healthcare. The lack of financial resources contributed to widespread misery and despair.
  2. Community and Resilience: Despite the economic hardships, many accounts from the era highlight a sense of community, resilience, and solidarity among people. This suggests that while money is essential for survival and comfort, human connections and communal support also play a crucial role in maintaining hope and happiness during tough times.

Cultural Reflections:

  1. Literature and Art: Art and literature from the Great Depression era often depict both the grim realities of poverty and the enduring spirit of individuals and communities. Works like Dorothea Lange’s photographs or John Steinbeck’s novels capture the struggles but also the strength and dignity of people facing adversity.
  2. Music and Entertainment: As mentioned earlier, the popularity of certain forms of entertainment like radio shows and movies during the Great Depression indicates that people sought and found moments of joy and escape despite economic difficulties.

Extent of Unhappiness in America During the Great Depression:

  • It’s unlikely that America was a completely unhappy place during the Great Depression. Human experiences are diverse and multifaceted. While the economic crisis brought significant hardships and undoubtedly affected the overall mood of the nation, it is also evident that people found ways to cope, connect, and find moments of happiness amid adversity.
  • The resilience of the American spirit, as reflected in the culture, art, and historical accounts of the time, suggests that even in the face of severe economic challenges, happiness was not entirely absent.
    People found solace in community, family, art, and entertainment, demonstrating that while money is a critical resource for well-being, it is not the sole determinant of happiness.

In conclusion, while money, particularly in the form of financial stability, is crucial for happiness to a certain extent, the experience of the Great Depression shows that other factors like community support, resilience, and cultural outlets also play significant roles in determining overall happiness and well-being.

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