I am looking for ways to say "low class" and "high class" that would be used in the 1920's on the East Coast of the U.S. I am writing a story narrated by a young girl who is very class-conscious and embarrassed by her family's poverty. I can use many time-appropriate ways to describe status. Thank you!

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    I think this is essentially "writing advice", but at the very least you'd have to give more info about the girl's social background (assuming you're looking for the kinds of terms she would use to describe either her own status or that of "upper class" people). Also bear in mind that in the UK at least, "class" doesn't directly correlate with wealth, and as a rule class isn't and never was so relevant in the US. – FumbleFingers May 10 '16 at 17:09
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    For writing advice you should probably be asking on writers.stackexchange.com .... – Hellion May 10 '16 at 17:10
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    "On the east coast of the US" is far too lax as a constraint. Is she from Boston or Savannah? – TRomano May 10 '16 at 17:18
  • You could use proletariat for workers – vickyace May 10 '16 at 17:29
  • FumbleFingers is right that class and wealth don't directly correlate. But although class was always less important in the US than the UK, it was very important in the US in the 1920s. Were the girl's family laborers? Were they white trash (Southern term)? A family of laborers wouldn't distinguish nuances of classes far above them. They'd just say "rich". I don't know what term white trash would use for the middle and upper classes. Laborers wouldn't use proletariat, unless they were political people. Provide more information, and ask for advice on the site Hellion recommended. – ab2 May 10 '16 at 18:43

Have you looked into how class was treated in The Great Gatsby?

Quote here from CliffsNotes:

Of all the themes [in The Great Gatsby], perhaps none is more well developed than that of social stratification. ... By creating distinct social classes — old money, new money, and no money — Fitzgerald sends strong messages about the elitism running throughout every strata of society.

(emphasis mine)

As others have mentioned, it's not always accurate to conflate wealth and status, and I think the "old money" / "new money" distinction is an important nuance to consider for a 1920s setting. It's not just a question of whether someone is wealthy or working class; there's also this factor of where their wealth came from, especially if your story includes any allusions to making money during Prohibition. "New money" is potentially seen as "lower class" than "old money" if the new money is ill-gotten gains.

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