“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul…” ~ Carl Jung
When I first set out to write the novel Maggie’s Dream, my plan was to create a story that solely regarded Post WWII feminism, and the independence women craved but could not acquire.
You see, when America’s soldiers (the ones who survived and were capable of working) came storming home after the war, women, who had worked hard in the factories and other necessary jobs for months, even years, were suddenly thrust back into their pre-WWII roles. Women who had made their marks as riveters, mechanics, managers, engineers, ambulance drivers, etc, many of whom were thrilled to be an integral part of the workforce, were ordered to go back to their ovens, vacuums, and furniture polish. They were jolted out of their happily discovered livelihoods with expediency to get henna rinses and hairdos, polished nails, real stockings, high heels, all while suppressing the angst that the independence they suddenly found a penchant for was no longer to be theirs; was no longer a right. The boys were coming home. They would need to get back to their old jobs. They would expect women to prepare home and hearth for the grand homecoming. It was time to dust off the cook books and revamp sex drives. Time for wives to greet hubbies at the door with curly hair, rosy cheeks, and a martini in hand. Time for singles to doll up and inspect the surge of incoming men for a husband.
While it is true that many women were relieved to give up their posts at the daily grind, their metal lunch boxes filled with SPAM sandwiches and their underappreciated paychecks, others were not. As a matter of fact, most women enjoyed working in jobs different from the usual female professions as secretaries, nurses, or teachers. Not that those jobs didn’t offer a place for women, but for those who were single, childless, unhappily married, or for those who wanted more than what had been offered to them for so long, working for a cause greater than themselves offered a glimpse of what could be. Many were thrilled to don overalls and hardhats, work victory gardens, head up can drives. Women were relied on, looked up to, and utilized in a way that their sex had never seen before.
I pored over countless letters and diaries from the Rosies who had collectively kept the United States from collapsing under its own weight during WWII. The pride in their words, in their hearts, transcended the pages upon which they wrote. I could feel what they were feeling, to finally be a part of a “man’s world.”
But when the war ended, and the confetti from the victory parades was swept away, so too was the feeling of female independence.
Women not only suffered a strange and incurable feeling of displacement, but many married gals fell into the throes of depression. And most of these women suffered in silence. After all, what woman would complain about being taken care of by her husband? How could a woman who had a new dishwasher, the latest pumps, and a shiny Dodge in the driveway possibly complain?
Short answer: She could not.
Thus started the influx of psychoanalysis. Women needed a place to vent their suppressed feelings, and psychiatrists/psychoanalysts were quick to prescribe a cure, often in the form of tranquilizers.
Maggie’s Dream took on a life of its own shortly after I began writing it, which is somewhat common when working on a novel. The research took me to places I had no idea existed in the human condition of the era. I worked hard to make Maggie’s desire to be independent remain the crux of the story, while allowing the fantastical elements to seep through organically.
The outcome is an adult fairy tale combining post-WWII feminism, psychotherapy, the world of dreams, and Carl Jung’s theory of collective consciousness. Don’t worry! Though sitting on the line between commercial and literary, the novel is not high-brow.
I hope you enjoy the book. Let me know what you think, and tell me your own Rosie stories if you have any. Ask an older female relative what she went through during WWII and the years following. Perhaps she will offer a story that will make you see the struggle for independence from a new perspective!