"Adventures In Thrift" Chapters 4 and 5 Discussion Questions

On page 115 Mrs. Moore explains to Mr. Larry why women are not able to save money.

She relates the problem to the fact that women do not see the long term benefits of food co-ops.

She says, “The trouble is to convince individual stockholders, especially housekeepers, that cooperation eventually spells savings and a lower cost of living. It may be the fault of our bringing up, but we women seek economy in only one of two ways, an actual and considerable reduction in the price of goods sold, or the money we put in the savings bank. We lack the economic vision of the man, which sees money invested, paying a profit six months or a year ahead. The feminine instinct for chasing so-called bargain sales blinds her to the bigger and safer saving which cooperation represents.”

1. Do you agree or disagree with Mrs. Moore’s opinion?

2. How does the setting figure into the book? Is the setting a character? Does it come to life? Do you feel you are experiencing the time and place in which the book was set?


  1. Elizabeth says

    I was struck by that gasoline cleaning method, too! Was that an early method of dry cleaning something at home? I suppose some of the chemicals used even today could be derivatives of petroleum products. But, can you imagine buttoning a child in a coat cleaned with gasoline? Talk about the danger from fumes and fire! Times do change. I wonder what we do today that our grandchildren will look back on with amazement.


  2. Country Girl At Heart says

    Times certainly do change because I can’t even imagine how one would clean a coat with gasoline.

    Also, your grandmother is a smart women, because it does not matter how many great deals we find if when we find them we don’t have th money to take advantage of them.


  3. HopewellMomSchool says

    This story keeps bringing to mine my Grandmother’s saying “It takes [having] money to save [or make] money.” Example: If you are broke, you buy enough to feed your family going by dollar amount. When you HAVE money you can catch sales, grab good marked down meat or produce, etc.

    One thing did make me laugh–when Mrs. Larry complains of the cost of having the baby’s WHITE coat cleaned at a dry cleaners. When she did it herself she only needed 25 cents worth of GASOLINE!!! Not only would she go away with mere vapor for that price today, she’d also probably find the CPS social workers on her door!! Times do change!!
    I am enjoying the book and hope to finish it over the weekend in around dragging American Heritage Girls around a nursing home to sing carols and getting some holiday crafts done. And, there is the whole dial up serice to put up with, too. Frugal internet wastes way too much time!


  4. Bethany says

    Hello ladies, I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself yesterday before joining the discussion, I absolutely meant to. I was just very excite to join in, and trying to hurry, as I was sneaking in some computer time before spending the day with my husband. I just wanted to say thank you so much for hosting this book club, Country Girl at Heart. It’s much appreciated and has me very interested. Thanks for your comment on my blog as well.


  5. Elizabeth says

    Hi Country Girl,

    I tried to comment twice already, but the comments didn’t seem to go through. So, I hope that I’m not repeating myself by commenting again.

    In short, here are my thoughts on questions 1 and 2.

    1. I do enjoy seeing immediate savings for my efforts. But, I do think it’s important for both men and women to think in terms of the long-term effects of their ventures in home economy. That’s easier said than done, however.

    2. In one sense, the book is very much a product of its day and time. The characters values and actions do represent the larger historical context of the author’s day.
    In another sense, the dilemmas the women face are timeless. I am learning things from the book that are helpful to me today. I find myself forgetting the historical time frame as I read along, until the author mentions something that specifically jolts me back to the setting.

    I think food safety was a bigger issue for the women in the book than it is for us today. I notice a lot of references in the book to concerns about that. Back then, they just didn’t have the uniform food safety standards that they do today, nor did they have the medical resources that we have to fight food or water-born illnesses — like typhoid fever.

    Of course, we do have some issues today — such as with peanut butter and spinach. But, when we do, the sources are identified and the contaminated food is pulled from the shelves. Back then, it probably was even more important than it is today to consider how clean a particular market might or might not be.

    Having said that, I think that in the discussion between Mrs. Larry and the maid about the rice, the author favored the maid’s point of view. She gave the maid the last word. I think the author’s point was that Mrs. Larry was rushing here and there to get answers and not listening to a member of her own household. But, I need to read a little more to understand the author’s view.

    I was interested in Bethany’s comments about the historical context. I have been seeing what I think are some interesting things in the book that relate to the climate in which modern feminism was born. But, Bethany’s comments took this to a deeper level, which I’m still pondering.


  6. Bethany says

    1. I actually saw this opinion as part of a larger problem women have in society, that of people commonly disparaging the feminine traits in favor of masculine ones, thus causing women to become like men as opposed to embracing their own unique roles and attributes. I found it interesting that these were prevelant attitudes among at the time, as I can see this as laying the groundwork of the feminist movement. As for the exact facts of her statement, I can see what she means about women wanting to save or not spend as opposed to invest, but I don’t know if I actually have seen co-ops in a modern context and so can’t comment on whether they would work.

    2. I do think the setting is very much a part of the book, in that these women have a very narrow-minded view of saving money. They’re trying to be thrifty while holding on to luxuries like servants or telephone ordering. I’m facsinated by the maid’s character, how she has good ideas about saving money, but because she’s “lower class and ethnic”, her ideas aren’t good enough. They act like the servants are too dimwitted to do anything right, but they’re the ones they could learn from on making the most of money! The servants are the people with the least money.


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