A pair of handed down jeans in this book, by author Marilyn Schiel, represents freedom in the era of the 1950’s when women were becoming a larger part of the workforce.
A pair of Levi’s jeans, handed down by her older brother represented more than just a simple piece of clothing. This gift meant she would be treated as an equal as far as gender roles were concerned.
Schiel would still have to abide by her parent’s strict rules of staying close to home and using the training wheels, whenever she rode her bicycle, but that would change too, when she is finally able to remove the objects that labeled her as a child, not old enough to take on such a large responsibility of riding a bicycle that she could only ride with the aid of a crutch. When she falls off her bike and gets back on to try again, she demonstrates the willingness of a fighter; one that doesn’t give up easily because of small failures. She also proved that she didn’t need the crutch to achieve the goals she went after in life. Schiel makes one look at the way in which society has trained us. For so many years, women depended on men for financial support but now, wearing Levi’s jeans and riding a bicycle without training wheels represented that she was just as capable as a man, in her role in life.
Marilyn Schiel displays a cultural change in America. She offers bits and pieces of information, concerning how she felt about growing up in a society that was rapidly changing, where women could at last share in a world that had once belonged solely to the male population.
Not only does the author show how World War II changed the way women operated and functioned in America, she gave us a first hand look at her own feelings and how these important gender changing roles affected her, personally. The small feats that the author acted upon showed a self-propelled personality and a strong desire to become socially accepted as an individual who was quite capable of making her own decisions in growing up with a sense of self-reliance and knowing that she would be capable in taking care of herself and working in society and being fully accepted by the male population as an equal.
This book shows a transformation in our society, from the old ways of women being settled in their roles of cooking and cleaning, to a new era in which they would be treated as intelligent women. This changing era marked a time of women going to work and acting in roles that once had belonged, solely to men.
“Levi’s” was an item of clothing that marked a pivotal time in Marilyn Schiel’s life. From the first time she slid the old pair of pants on her body, she had taken on more than just a pair of pants, but a sense of equality that would guide her throughout her lifetime, and lead her to gaining respect as a strong woman who took a pair of jeans that had belonged to a male, and changed her way of thinking.