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Of Mice and Men
Transcript of Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men
By John Steinbeck
February 27, 1902 - December 20, 1968
Born in Salinas, CA.
Best known for, Of Mice and Men (1937), and the Grapes of Wrath (1939).
Novels focus on the lives of the poor working-class during the Great Depression.
His writing style was very realistic.
In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
He had 30 novels published
Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men was written in 1937
It tells the story of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers during the Great Depression.
The novel has been banned periodically in the United States due to profane language, morality, violence, and the depiction of the mentally challenged.
The novel is set in the farmland of the Salinas Valley, where John Steinbeck was born.
The ranch in the novel is near Soledad, which is south-east of Salinas.
The country side described in the beginning of the novel, and the ranch itself is based on Steinbeck's own experiences.
Before technology created farm machinery, humans had to do a lot of the farm work by hand.
Between the 1880s and the 1930s thousands of men would travel the countryside in search of work, including the harvesting of wheat.
During the 1930s, the unemployment rate was high in the U.S., and with so many men searching for work, agencies were set up to send farm workers to where they were needed.
In the novel, George and Lennie (the two main characters) were given work cards from Murray and Ready’s, which was one of the farm work agencies.
These workers would earn $2.50 or $3.00 a day, plus food and shelter.
Historical Background of Migrant Workers
The American Dream
From the 17th Century onwards, immigrants have dreamed of a better life in America.
Many people immigrated to America in search of a new life for themselves or their families.
These immigrants dreamed of making their fortunes in America.
For many this dream of riches became a nightmare
There were horrors of slavery.
There were horrors of the American Civil War.
There was a growing number of slums that were just as bad as those in Europe.
There was also great corruption in the American political system which led to many shattered hopes.
The Great Depression
The Dust Bowl
The idea of an American Dream for many was broken when in 1929, the stock market crashed, marking the beginning of the Great Depression
In addition, terrible drought and environmental conditions created the turmoil for farmers known as the Dust Bowl.
Before the 1930s, America was enjoying economic triumph.
The idea of credit – buy now, pay later – was introduced and people bought everything they could.
Unfortunately, this time of enjoyment and prosper would soon be over.
One of the major causes of the Great Depression was the collapse of the Stock Market on “Black Tuesday”, October 29th , 1929.
In a single day, sixteen million shares were traded--a record--and thirty billion dollars vanished into thin air.
Two months after the original crash in October, stockholders had lost more than $40 billion dollars.
Another cause of the Great Depression was bank failures.
Throughout the 1930s over 9,000 banks failed.
Bank deposits were uninsured and thus as banks failed people simply lost their savings.
Surviving banks, unsure of the economic situation and concerned for their own survival, stopped being as willing to create new loans.
In addition to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl was also causing the morale of the country to become increasingly hopeless.
Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Great Plains suffered a severe drought.
In 1934, windstorms covered the Great Plains. They easily uplifted the soil, blowing massive clouds of dust all over the plains.
Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes because of the Dust Bowl. 89 million acres of land were severely damaged or destroyed.
Most people traveled to California to restart their lives.