neralpresent an image of a hellish nightmare where all decency and humanitycould be lost. For men who fought under these conditions, coming homewas a very difficult transition. Above all, these men wanted to returnto “normalcy”, to come back to a life that they had been promised ifthe war was won.
This would turn out to be harder to obtain then firstexpected, problems ranging from the availability of jobs in the workforce to child raising and post-traumatic stress would make thisreturn to “normalcy” very troublesome. This laborious task ofreintegrating into American culture would eventually lead to problemsin the gender relations in post war America.One of the major problems that G.
I.’s faced upon there returnto the States was the availability of jobs. During the war, the U.S.government encouraged women and minorities to enter the industrialwork force due to labor shortages and increased demand for war goods.
By 1944 a total of 1,360,000 women with husbands in the service hadentered the work force. This, along with the a migration ofAfrican-American workers from the south, filled the war time need forlabor. This attitude toward women in the work force changeddramatically at the end of the war. The propaganda promoting “Rosiethe Riviter”, suddenly changed, focusing on the duties of women as ahomemaker and a mother.
Even with these efforts and those of the G.I.bills passed after the war, returning soldiers had a difficult timefinding jobs in post war America. This independence given to womenduring the war and its removal with the advent of the returning men,had a definitive effect on gender relations in American society andwhich one of the seeds of the womens rights movements in laterdecades.Another hardship encountered by returning soldiers was thereactions of the children they left behind. Most of the fathers thatreturned from the war concerned with how they would fit into thefamily system.
Some fathers were determined to take an active role inthe family and they did by becoming the master disciplinary. Returningfathers came to home to find undisciplined and unruly children, a farcry from ordered military life they had lead during the war. Somechildren even resented at the strangers who had re-entered theirlives, lives that seemed complete without him. One of the roots ofthese feelings was that children that lived in extended familiesduring the war enjoyed being pampered and disliked the determinationthat some returning fathers had to fulfill his paternal role andimpose discipline. The fathers return disrupted the homefront invarious other ways also.
Some children feared that their fathers wouldnot stay and as a result didn’t want to become to attached to them, infear that they might again leave. Other children were angry that thefathers had left in the first place. The homecoming was especiallyhard on both father and child in a family where the child was bornduring the war or was very young when the father left. Most of thesechildren hardly recognized there fathers and where fearful at thesenew strangers. Another problem faced by returning fathers was theirbelieve that their son had become “soft” in the absence of a strongmale-role model. The return of the father in the domestic life alsoeffected the gender relation after the war. Most children found therelives complete without there fathers and some even found that they hadmore freedom when there father was gone.
Girls that found theremothers working and performing what was before considered male role,were found to develop less traditional feminine sex roles. It could besaid that the working mom inspired the children of the era to be moreindependent themselves. This also could serve as a origin to thefeminist movements in later decades.
Post-traumatic stress, “shell shock”, was common among thereturning soldiers. Most wives and children noticed behavioral changesin the men that the knew before the war. Veterans returning from thebattlefield would suffer nightmares and flashbacks of combat, abouttheir alienation and loneliness , desperation and withdrawal. Theseresults of combat and the increase in alcoholism among the returningG.I.
‘s lead to an upward spiral in the number of divorces thatoccurred after the war.The return home for many soldiers was not at all comfortable.After fighting under unbearable conditions for years, the return todomestic life was undoubtedly not what was expected. With the problemsof find work and those encountered on the family scheme, thisreintegration was anything but smooth.