Catherine Brody’s 1932 novel starts out with a stunning description of someone (Molly) who doesn’t want to go to work, to enter the daily grind yet again:
After she had shut the front door, the gray drift of the morning encompassed her like still, slow water; as if she were a swimmer, it retarded her arms and legs. They yearned from herself backward, through the closed door, into the warm bed, under the bedclothes, pulled off before she was ready. And it was only Thursday. She drew herself up with an effect of tightening her body and squaring her shoulders and the heels of her old shoes struck glumly on the three shallow steps.
In those early days, she works at the pottery factory, joins a rebellion of quitters when their pay is decreased 10%, to the consternation of her aunt with whom she boards for $8/week. She occasionally goes downtown with one of the other boarders, Elizabeth. During one of those excursions, she meets a friend of Elizabeth’s who says she can get a job at Davey’s. Bonus is that they start at a leisurely 7:30 am at Davey’s… “Mm, then I won’t have to get up so early” opines Molly. But Aunt Frances chimes in quickly that she needs time to catch the public transportation to the factory. Aunt Frances “was impatient with lying in bed. She got up at dawn herself and was seldom off her feet, by her own boast, all day long.”
Molly moves to Detroit, marries Bill and fulfills her life’s desire: to stop working. Only that lasts for only a few months before the necessity of it crowds in on her. She and Bill go through layoffs and job searches and arguments begin, with violence. Bemoaning the lack of work everywhere, Bill says it’s dead everywhere:
And in his words it was as if they walked in a vast corridor, one of those too realistic corridors of dreams in which door after door, as they came up to it, closed without sound in their faces – and the faster they walked the more swiftly the doors shut – until they walked no more but stood still where they were, looking neither to the right nor left but standing, helpless, paralyzed.
Where to go? Where in all the country – where even in all the world – for it was everywhere the same. And then if they spent their hoarded energy – their money – on moving, there would be so much less to wait on.
More layoffs in a suburb of Detroit where they have moved, and a neighbor asks them to care for a rifle her husband has taken to thinking about. This pops up at the end, after Bill leaves (pregnant, natch) Molly, then returns to kill her.