Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Sandra  Dallas

Christine  Shea 

The Evolution of American Amusement Parks during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The Struggles of Females to Form a Community in the Novels of Sandra Dallas

What are the factors that cause a person to become isolated versus part of a community? Sandra Dallas addresses this question as she emphasizes the value of community, especially for women, in her novels. Dallas shows how strong communities pull together in times of tragedy so that no one is forced to face these events alone. In each of her novels, religion, quilting, shared secrets, and strong mentors all provide arenas in which the protagonists are able to feel a part of the group and establish stronger identities as individuals. On the other hand, sudden tragedy, painful secrets, and poverty tend to have the opposite effect, causing feelings of alienation in the female protagonists. However, these isolated feelings are offset by those more positive influences that bring the community together. Therefore, the communities of Dallas’ novels are often forced ones – groups brought together by necessity – but they nevertheless help individuals to establish a place in their community as they battle pressures that would lead to their continued isolation.

American amusement parks evolved in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Inspired by examples from old world art and architecture, American amusement park developers transformed the legacy of European pleasure gardens, castles and cathedrals into uniquely American entertainment meccas. In order to modernize, American innovations such as roller coasters, a friendly atmosphere and modern architecture had to be added. These innovations made the parks more enjoyable for families. Since all classes enjoyed the amusements, the parks united the community. They also provided an escape from reality and the stresses of everyday life for its patrons. The World’s Fair and World’s Columbian Exposition of America in the late nineteenth century, all inspired the present day amusement park. The World’s Columbian Exposition opened in 1893 as an effort to provide cultural leadership for an urban-industrial society, and to set social order and welcome the patrons who came to the Exposition. The Exposition educated citizens about public order while they learned about technological and industrial innovations. The amusement parks branched out in 1955 when Walt Disney created a new type of park, the theme park, Disneyland.

Major Works Consulted:

Dallas, Sandra. Prayers for Sale , New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.
--. The Persian Pickle Club, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995.
Lukas, Scott A. Theme Park, London: Reaktion, 2008.
Samuelson, Dale, and Wendy Yegoiants. The American Amusement Park, St. Paul, MBI, 2001.
Photo Credit: Dallas, Sandra. The Bride’s House. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.