Slavenka Drakulic Life through Communism
In the novel How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed written by Slavenka Drakulic illustrates what life was like for her growing up in a country influenced by communism. Throughout this novel there were many instances that surprised me that people during this time had to live with. The first most striking item to me was the washing process of clothes that women did. Drakulic describes that “first [her grandmother] would cook starch over the stove, then dropped it into water” (1) after that her grandmother would clean the clothes in the tub and iron them Sunday. Drakulic mentions this point to contrast the difference on how life was before the Americanization affected them. Once washing machine were becoming commonly used there was no need to for the old fashion way, but even though some people owned a wash machine they still never used it.
Although women had to live without washing machines, there was another common item that most men and women use today which is toilet paper. During the communism time there was a shortage on food and also toilet paper. Drakulic explains when there was no toilet paper on the selves they had to use Golub. “Golub appeared-rough brown sheets folded and pressed together in a square package.” (2) She describes that Golub was no better than using a magazine or a newspaper and imagine today there are numerous brands of toilet paper out there in American when in the past Yugoslavia did not even have one brand available.
The last item that Drakulic describes that was very difficult for women to live without was Tampax and Feminine pads. Drakulic discusses the struggles that women would have to go through without these products. In the novel, Drakulic mentions speaking at a conference and she illustrates, “before I started my speech I took out one sanitary napkin and one Tampax and holding them high in the air.” (3) Then she goes on saying that women in countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria are not able to access these products and they have never had them in their life. Drakulic illustrates other shortage that women under communism rule had to live without for a long period of time. Learning the impact that a government ruling policy such as communism has on people during the time was interesting to read and learn about. I could not imagine living in a society were the economy was so bad and I was limited on resources.
1. Drakulic, Slavenka. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed (New York: Harper Perennial, 1991) 43.
3. Drakulic, Slavenka.124.
4. Washing Clothing , “Rural Revolution“, October 30, 2010. http://www.rural-revolution.com/2010/10/warshing-clothes.html
5. Pacific Brown Paper Towels, “Walmart”, 2014, http://www.walmart.com