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Geography of Salinas Valley, California
Transcript of Geography of Salinas Valley, California
By: Bryant, John and Punit
Geography - Agriculture
Geography - Water
Geography - Climate
Reference to Literature - John Steinbeck
Reference to Literature - Of Mice and Men
The Salinas Valley is an integral part of the novella as it is the setting of the plot and relates to most of the characters in the novel. It is mentioned in chapters 1 and 6 and the Salinas River is portrayed as a calm sanctuary and acts as a contrast to the novella.
The weather ranges from North to South. The Northern section is often cooled by coastal winds, whereas the Southern end has extreme temperatures, - hot summers, cold winters
The Salinas Valley is known as “America’s Salad Bowl” due to it growing the majority of fruits and vegetables in the United States. An example of the fruits/vegetables that it contains are: Broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and artichokes.
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The Salinas Valley is located in Central California near Monterey bay and lies between the Sta. Lucia Mountains and Gabilan mountain ranges. The Gabilan mountains are introduced in the first chapter of the novel, “Of Mice and Men” written by John Steinbeck. The Salinas Valley was known for its valuable crops such as spinach, lettuce, celery and strawberries and consequently, the Salinas Valley was known as the “America’s Salad Bowl.” The climate in the Salinas Valley played a huge role in growing crops because the winter was mild in contrast to the winter further north of Salinas Valley. The Salinas Valley is a sand river; water only appears after heavy rains and/or from the upstream reservoirs.
The Salinas Valley as a whole is a sand river, in times of heavy rain the water will appear to be on the surface, this can also happen if water is released from upstream reservoirs.
Salinas was first home to small tribes of Native Americans during the Spanish Era. It had been centuries before the first Europeans had settled in the Salinas. The earliest outside settlers of Salinas are the Spanish who had built missions in Carmel, Soledad, San Juan Bautista and the San Antonio Valley at the same time. Mexicans who had inhabited the land once they had gained independence from Spain which can be dated as far back as 1822. At the time, the valley was known for its large salt marsh which ran through the area. Thus, the valley had gained its name, Salinas, which is Spanish for salt marsh. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, had the Salinas’ agricultural industry begun to grow which is nowadays, one of the factors that it is most known for.
John Steinbeck had used the Salinas valley as the setting for most of his novels as it was his birthplace in which he had spent the earlier years of his life. He had used it as the settings for his most famous novellas such as Of Mice and Men and East of Eden. He had particularly introduced the rich agricultural area to his readers in his novel East of Eden as he had described the very essence of the setting in detail descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells, and colors. The Salinas Valley was also an important part of his life other than just his novels. Nowadays, his grave site can also be found in Salinas as he was buried in the Garden of Memories Cemetery.
The novella, “Of Mice and Men” written by John Steinbeck was set in Salinas Valley, California and takes place during the Great Depression in the 1930’s causing people to migrate out to different parts of the country and left unemployed people (mostly men) desperate for work. Salinas Valley is one of the major valleys and arguably the most productive agricultural region in California. Salinas Valley plays a vital part in the plot of the novella. The various geographical features of Salinas Valley such as its agriculture, water and climate were not the main focus of the plot; however, it was of great importance to the author. John Steinbeck’s relationship with the Salinas Valley could be described as fondness of the landscape. Many believe that he used the setting of Salinas Valley in his novella because he grew up there as well as had his early education at Salinas.
In retrospect, the geography of Salinas Valley influenced John Steinbeck’s novella, “Of Mice and Men” significantly as it was the setting of the plot and its geographical features such as the water, climate and agriculture contributed an important role on conceiving the story to the readers as each factor was portrayed as a symbol for a deeper meaning behind it. John Steinbeck’s personal emotions were also displayed by his works in literature as he expressed his relationship with the valley in his novellas such as East of Eden and Of Mice and Men