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John Steinbeck and the Great Depression (Research Paper)

             The 1930's were a decade of great change politically, economically, and socially. The Great Depression wore raw the nerves of the people, and our true strength was shown. No other nation could have weathered such an intense and disastrous period better than the United States, and we are truly blessed to live here. From it arose John Steinbeck, a storyteller of the Okies and their hardships. His books, especially The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are reflections of what really went on in the 1930's, politically, economically, as well as socially.
             The Great Depression had an immense impact on American life. Although the stock market crash was its immediate spark, there were many other contributing factors that stemmed from the uneven distribution of wealth in the United States during the 1920's. In fact, the top 0.1 percent of American families had a total income equal to that of the bottom 42 percent . Socially, people began to buy more than what they could afford, especially on "credit", which led to many problems at the onset of the Depression. Farmers, such as the fictional Joads that Steinbeck created, faced hardships before the Depression, with competition high and prices extremely low. Investment in stocks was high, and since prosperity just seemed to grow and grow, many thought it was an easy way to success. However, it was just the opposite as the "bubble" popped, ruining many investors. The economic collapse was especially worse when combined with the severe drought that was occurring across the Great Plains, coming to be known as the Dust Bowl. It was from this that Steinbeck's great works were born, products of the misfortune of the Okies.
             John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California. His life is a mixture of accomplishment and defeat, and has thereby been dubbed the "greatest successful failure" of American literature. Nonetheless, his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, remains an American classic, and will be for ages to come.

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