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Of Mice and Men Context

Historical background on 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck.
by

Mr Todd

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of Of Mice and Men Context

Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck Born in Salinas, California in 1902. Died in 1968 in New York. Author of:

Of Mice and Men (1937)
The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
East of Eden (1952) Steinbeck won both the Pulitzer Prize for 'The Grapes of Wrath' and
later the Nobel Prize for Literature for his outstanding contribution to
world literature. He is regarded as one of the outstanding authors of
the twentieth century. Early Life In his youth Steinbeck grew up in the Californian town of Salinas where he was born. He was, for a time, a farmhand on neighbouring ranches, an experience which was to have a great effect on his literary career. Later Life Steinbeck found major literary success with his novels in the 1930s, allowing him to live comfortably. He was married twice and had two children, Thomas and John in 1944 and 1946 respectively.

He worked as a war correspondent during WWII until he was wounded in North Africa when he returned home.

He continued to write until he died age 66. The Great Depression On Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929,
the stock market in America crashed. This triggered the collapse of economies across the world, resulting in 'The Great Depression', a time of severe financial difficulty. The Great Depression lasted from 1929
into the 1940s, and during this time
unemployment in the U.S.A. was exceptionally
high. 25% of the workforce were unable to find
a job. On top of all of the financial difficulty in America, there were a series of
droughts which ruined crops and meant that many farms could no longer operate. This put many farm workers out of work. However, news spread that in California, on the West Coast, the
soil was fertile and there were lots of jobs and life was better. This led to large numbers of farm workers
leaving the Mid West and heading to California in search of work. This is the backdrop to which
'Of Mice and Men' is set. In the
novel we follow two vagrant farm
workers, George and Lennie, as
they look for work. The American Dream The American Dream is based upon the principle that every person can, with a combination of hard work, effort, luck and ability, make a success of their life. For many people living in American in the early twentieth century this was an appealing though as they had very little and it allowed them to aspire to success. The American dream originated from the belief that the U.S.A. was a country of opportunity and plenty. Many people from across the world, including many Scots, emigrated there throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The American Dream is enshrined in the US Declaration of independence which states that: By the 30s, however, it was becoming apparent that the American Dream was not a realistic principle. Earlier in the nations history, slavery, the American Civil War, and severe inequality had highlighted the fact that America was not the promised land that everybody claimed. In the novel, the American Dream is an important theme. We see Lennie and George trying to better themselves and to have a comfortable life, but they are met with challenges at every turn. Title The title 'Of Mice and Men', is taken from a poem by our national bard Robert Burns. 'The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley
And lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
for promis'd joy' Meaning: No matter how much you plan something for the future you can never be certain what will happen. Often our dreams fail to become a reality or they can even go terribly wrong. "All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
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