Ty V. and Saahj G.

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Portrait of John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was born in California in 1902. When he grew up, he went to Stanford University, but he never graduated. In his books, he wrote about the poorer, more unfortunate side of living in the United States during and after the Great Depression. In the book, The Grapes of Wrath, he follows the lives of people during the Dust Bowl. Steinbeck was also awarded the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for his literary work. Steinbeck is the author of the well known novel , Of Mice and Men and East of Eden. In addition to his literary work, Steinbeck was also a avid follower of politics and fought for things he believed in. For example, he was harassed by the government, so he made that publicly known. Steinbeck was considered a revolutionary author of his time period and is remembered like that, currently (Biography) .

The 1930's

The Second World War starts. The United States declares its neutrality in the war. Preparation for the worst arises and the development of the atomic bomb is in progress. The 1930’s were a bad time for the United States in terms of the drought and the war. It is quite possible that Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath to recall this dark time in the United States. In addition, the economic status in general was poor. It was a poor time because of the drought that had affected the agricultural center of the United States. This agricultural center was in the Midwest, where the majority of people lived on farms and relied on crops for their livelihood. Like other novels in this time period, they expressed the frustration and the sadness of many people (History of 1930's).

Short Documentary of John Steinbeck

History of Time period and location of the book, and how it affects the story: Ty V.

The novel, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, was set in the late 1930s. The Dust Bowl is just starting and many of the farmers’ crops are dying. During this time, banks were not understanding to the situation of the farmers. During the Dust Bowl, there was very little rain in the Midwest, where the story is set, and most of the land has become very dusty with harsh winds blowing the dirt, making it nearly impossible to live. In this time, because of the dust and the drought, all of the crops grown by farmers died. Because all of these crops died, the farmers could not pay back loans taken from the banks. The farmers used the entire small amount of money to pay back the banks, but the banks were not understanding to the situation of the farmers. In the 1930s, the banks were cruel (they are depicted as “monsters” in the book), and only cared about making back the money they loaned to the farmers.

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Cover of The Grapes of Wrath

The setting of the novel is Oklahoma, the mid-west of the United States. This is a crucial part of the story because in the late 1930s, Oklahoma, the Dust Bowl took over all of the lives of the farmers and farms. Early in the book, the setting is Oklahoma, but if the setting was anywhere else, the Dust Bowl would not affect the townspeople as greatly as it did since they are in Oklahoma. Once the banks force the farmers off their land, many of the farmers move to California in order to look for new work. The farmers need to make money, but their land is useless for growing crops, but also the banks have taken it. They are driven to move from the location of Oklahoma in order to find work to support their family.

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The Green Giant

The Green Giant
The novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was set in the Depression and in a close time period with the Second World War. The main victims of the depression were the farmers because of the severe drought. Their crops had died off and these farmers had no source of income. Due to the lack of money, the farmers could not keep their livelihood and were pressured by the banks. More focused on providing for their family, these farmers overlooked the fact that the banks were on the verge of taking their houses. Eventually, farmers lost their property and the banks grew more power hungry. In the drawing, the dollar sign-like monster depicts the greedy and overpowering effect the banks possess.

During the Depression many people questioned their belief in faith. More importantly, people did not believe in religion. Specifically in the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, Preacher Casey described to Tom that he had lost his faith and belief in God. Prior to the Depression, Preacher Casey was a reverend at the local church and soon started questioning his beliefs and what he stood for. He described himself as being himself and not what people wanted him to be.
The Strength of Family

The Strength of Family
In the very beginning of the book, the scene is described as being dusty and cloudy with the children and wives at the door with the husband/father in the farms. The men were pondering about what they would do for days and the children were seen holding onto their mothers. One of the most important aspects of the Depression was keeping your family close and staying together through the hard times. In the novel, the Joad family managed to stay together and keep a strong connection with each other, even though they were separated when Tom went to jail.
Betrayal in Despair

Betrayal in Despair
As described by the first drawing, the antagonists of the novel were the banks and the people associated with the banks. The main problem that took place in the Depression was that farmers were too pressured to make the payments because their crops were dying off. They took the easy way out and started working for the banks. Dedicated farmers strongly hated the farmers that did this and in the novel, Willy Feeley was an example.