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See 28th Annual Steinbeck Festival ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Although most of Steinbeck’s works were published in the middle part of the 20th century, his works are still treasured today. To celebrate Steinbeck’s accomplishments and novels, every year, there is a festival in honor of John Steinbeck. This year, the 28th Annual Steinbeck Festival will be held from August 7th-10th in Salinas, California. The theme for this year’s festival is “Steinbeck and Mexico” which will reflect Steinbeck’s regard for Mexico in cultural context in his literary works. It has been noted that over a third of Steinbeck’s works are either set in Mexico or involve characters of Mexican descent, and his works are more than often written in context to the politics, history, and environment of Mexico.

http://www.steinbeck.org/pdf/Fest08web.pdf

Of Mice and Men ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Summary Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men, a short story in 1937 that highlight was a novella about two men who struggled to find jobs. The novel begins with the two protagonists, George and Lennie who are forced out of their jobs when Lennie, the mentally incompetent protagonist is accused of “raping” a woman. When George finds out that Lennie is being falsely accused, to protect his friend, they both set out to find a job on a farm in Salinas, California. While at their new jobs on the farm, George and Lennie make several friends and share their version of the “American Dream” with their coworkers. Their dream consists of having their own farm where they do not have to work under someone else’s authority, a place to call their own. Lennie who is a large, but gentle being who tends to always hurt animals by simply playing with them because of his strength wishes to mend rabbits. George on the other hand is quite the opposite of Lennie. Although George is a short man he is seen as Lennie’s caretaker. Every time Lennie gets in trouble, George, acting as a fatherly figure, bails Lennie out. Throughout the novel, there are several instances where Lennie has animals that he unintentionally kills. As the novel proceeds, the animals become larger in form. (ex: mouse…dog…etc) These acts foreshadow the climax of the story when Lennie stroking his boss’ wife’s hair and she tells Lennie to let go of her hair or she will scream. Panicked, Lennie grabs a hold of her hair tightly, and as she screams, Lennie closes her mouth and unintentionally strangles her and breaks her neck. The boss’s wife dies on the spot and Lennie is the one to blame. Lennie immediately fled the scene, and when George found him near the Salinas River, he is forced to shoot and kill Lennie because George knows that if he does not kill his companion, than the other workers more so his boss will eventually torture and kill Lennie. What Critics Had to Say In the article, Steinbeck and the Great Depression, Morris Dickenson briefly mentions some of Steinbeck’s novel including Of Mice and Men. When referring to Of Mice and Men, Dickenson states that the novel is clearly about the hope and ambitions of the two protagonists. Dickenson also realizes that the need for these dreams and ambitions portrayed though the novel were not only the characters ambitions, but Steinbeck’s himself. Dickenson declares, “Some readers have always found these characters to be too elemental, yet they reflect the primal needs that Steinbeck discovered in himself—a longing for animal warmth, the feeling of security, and the reassuring touch of other living creatures”. From that statement, it is clear that part of Steinbeck’s short story was derived from his life. Steinbeck and the Great Depression, Morris Dickenson Article

From a Biographical Perspective Like Dickenson’s article, in analyzing John Steinbeck’s famous novel Of Mice and Men from a biographical perspective, it is evident that several aspects of the novel were influenced directly by Steinbeck’s life. From the beginning of the novel to the very last page, it is clear that Steinbeck’s storyline was persuaded by the hardships that Steinbeck faced throughout his life. Although some factors of Steinbeck’s life that were portrayed in the novel were noticeable, most other factors were quiet concealed and could only be detected by conducting a “deeper reading” of the text. For instance, right from the introduction of the novel, the setting of the story takes place in a farm in California, more specifically the Salinas Valley where Steinbeck was born, raised, and worked on his father’s farm. Less obvious aspects of the novel that reflected parts of Steinbeck’s life were the main characters in Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie. The protagonists in this novel, George and Lennie are not only representative of Steinbeck’s relationship with his best friend Ed Ricketts, but they also embody the personality of Steinbeck and his father. George, like Steinbeck’s father who was the caretaker of John Steinbeck, looked after his companion Lennie. “Steinbeck described his father as a somewhat withdrawn man, frustrated by his lack of success in business yet also strong, gentle, and sensitive”. George reflected Thomas, Steinbeck’s father, because like Thomas, George, although he was strong on the outside, he had gentle and sensitive side. In the novel, George knew that his life would be much better if he did not have to take care of Lennie. George stated, “God, you’re a lot of trouble. I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl”. Although George wished that he did not have to deal with Lennie, he is kind to Lennie because he knows that he is Lennie’s only friend, and thus, George acts as a fatherly figure and takes care of Lennie and helps him when he is in trouble. On the other hand there is Lennie, the anti social character and “reject in society” who cannot take care of himself. Lennie portrays John Steinbeck because, “He (Steinbeck) was somewhat of a social failure. Shy and withdrawn, he was not particularly good-looking or athletic, had no close friends, and eschewed most social activities”. Although Steinbeck was anti social in his earlier years, he became more confident in his later years and eventually got married, but during his lifetime, Steinbeck had an affair with Gwendolyn Conger, an actress. In the novel, Lennie has “thing” with a woman who is the boss’ son’s wife, also referred to as Curley’s wife. Curley’s wife is drawn to Lennie and as she tries to flirt with him in an aggressive move, Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck, and she dies instantly. At the conclusion of the novel, George has to kill Lennie because if he did not kill Lennie then Lennie would have to face Curley for killing his wife. Although Steinbeck did not kill his best friend Ed Ricketts, like Lennie, Ricketts was killed due to a car accident. Throughout his life, Steinbeck was also fearful of abandonment, and it was stated, “Steinbeck often grappled with self-doubt and a fear of loneliness…”. When Steinbeck’s best friend passed away Steinbeck felt lonely. Like Steinbeck, Lennie was very fearful of abandonment. When Crooks asked Lennie what he would do if George left him, Lennie said, “George wun’t go away and leave me. I know George wun’t do that”. Like Steinbeck who depended on someone for support, Lennie looked to George to look out for him. Another major theme that was based on John Steinbeck’s life and not so clear in the novel was the “American Dream”. When Steinbeck was born in 1902, California was filled with opportunities especially because of the gold rush that had previously taken place. Steinbeck also lived through the Great Depression in which there were very few opportunities of achieving the American Dream. Steinbeck who did at one point suffer financially, he eventually became somewhat affluent after getting married to his first wife purchased a home on fifty acres of land. In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie had always dreamed of owning their own ranch. Throughout the novel on various occasions, the ranch is described in great detail. George stated, “Well, it’s ten acres. Got a little win’mill. Got a little shack on it, an’ a chicken run, Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, ‘cots, nuts, got a few berries. They’s a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it”. Unlike Steinbeck who purchased his own land, George and Lennie failed to do so, and their American Dream was left unsuccessful like the millions of others who lived during the Great Depression. When analyzing Of Mice and Men from a biographical perspective, it is unmistakable that Steinbeck’s life influenced the novel and various features of his life are intertwined directly in the novel. The protagonists personify Steinbeck himself as well as his father and Steinbeck’s relationship with his best friend, while the hardships and failure to obtain the American Dream describes Steinbeck’s hardships in his life as he lived through the Great Depression and Stock Market Crash.

The Pearl ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Summary The Pearl, a short story that was written in 1947 was a novel about poverty in Mexican villages. Because of its context with Mexico, The Pearl was chosen as one of the highlighted texts for this year’s annual Steinbeck festival. In the novel, Kino, the protagonist was in need of money because his son, Coyotito was bitten by a scorpion and needed medical attention. Because Kino, like many other Mexicans in La Paz was poor he set out to find a pearl that would pay for medical fees. Sure enough, Kino found what La Paz characterized as “the pearl of the world”. Kino and his family immediately became greedy and began to think of all the things they could accomplish with the fortune from the pearl. One thing lead to the next and before you knew it, all the people of La Paz were trying to get their hands on this one of a kind pearl. Late at night a person snuck into Kino’s house trying to get a hold of the pearl. In fear for her life, Kino’s wife, Juana sees the pearl as a sign of evil and tells Kino to dispose of the pearl. When Kino refuses to dispose of the pearl, Juana takes the pearl and tries to toss it back into the sea, but Kino finds her and stops her right in time. When Kino arrives back into town, a group of violent men try to take the pearl, but in an act of self defense, Kino unintentionally kills one of the men. Convinced Kino would be labeled as a murderer, the family decides to flee from the scene. In a vandalistic act, neighbors destroy Kino’s get away boat and burn down Kino’s house and because of the house fire; neighbors are convinced that Kino and his family died. As they escape from the fire and head to the capital to sell their pearl, they find that three trackers are following them and in hope to escape Kino and his family hide in a cave. As sunrises, Kino lets out a cry and in while Kino was wrestling with the trackers who found their hideout, the trackers fire a shot and Kino’s son Coyotito dies. In the end, while Juana is carrying her dead son over her shoulder, Kino goes to the river and throws the pearl back into the sea.

From a Formalist Perspective In analyzing John Steinbeck’s famous short story The Pearl from a formalist perspective, it is evident that Steinbeck utilized various literary devices. The Pearl which was set in La Paz, a Mexican village revealed the poverty in Mexico, and because of its reference to Mexico, The Pearl was chosen as one of the short stories to be presented at this year’s annual Steinbeck festival. The Pearl, as suggested by the title is about a destitute family that obtains “relief” when they find a priceless pearl. Through the use of literary devices and using the elements of light and dark, Steinbeck succeeds in revealing the rise and downfall of the family. One of the most important themes in The Pearl was the theme of light and dark or of good and evil. Because of the aspect of light the reader can infer that a joyous event will change the family’s life, but because of the shadow of darkness, the reader can also infer that the family will face a treacherous end. From the commencement of the story Steinbeck utilizes foreshadowing to portray the various aspects of light and dark through the use of the physical description of numerous characters and to describe the setting for the story. For instance when the protagonist, Kino, describes his wife’s eyes he declares, “Her dark little eyes made little reflected stars”. This statement is contradictory in the sense that although Kino’s wife’s eyes are dark they emanate light. Another example of a statement that exposes the reader to the factors of light and dark is when Steinbeck first introduces Kino stating, “He lowered his blanket from his nose, now, for the dark poisonous air was gone and the yellow sunlight fell on the house”. In this story, Kino’s son, Coyotito, is bitten by a venomous scorpion and in order to save Coyotito’s life, Kino needs to find a way to compensate for medical expenses. The joyous event that the family experiences is when Kino discovers what their neighbors refer to as “the pearl of the world”. The pearl embodied qualities of light and hope because not only was it going to produce sufficient funds to heal Coyotito’s wound, but it also signified wealth and a way out of poverty for Kino and his family. More so than hope and light, the pearl signified darkness and Steinbeck directly stated that in the text. After the neighbors heard that Kino possessed the pearl of the world, Steinbeck stated, “The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; the black distillate was like the scorpion, or like hunger in the smell of food, or like the loneliness when love is withheld. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it”. Also, the pearl symbolizes darkness as it becomes representative of one of the seven deadly sins which is greed. As observed through the story, Kino and his wife began to forget why they set out to find the pearl which was to cure their son Coyotito. When asked what they were going to do with all the money from the pearl, Kino said that they will be married in a church and as he looked closer at the pearl he saw the whole family with new cloths, a harpoon, and rifle. In a descriptive image, Kino described what he saw in the pearl, which was how he saw the family dressed. Steinbeck declares, In the pearl he saw how they were dressed- Juana in a shawl stiff with newness and a new skirt, and from under the long skirt Kino could see that she wore shoes. It was in the pearl- the picture glowing there. He himself was dressed in new white clothes, and he carried a new hat-not of straw but of fine black felt-and he too wore shoes-not sandals but shoes that laced. But Coyotito-he was the one-he was a blue sailor suit from the United States and a little yachting cap… Another source of the pearl acting as an entity of darkness is observed when a thief tries to steal the pearl and in an aggressive act of self defense or even possibly out of greed, Kino accidently kills the thief. Lastly, the most vital indication of darkness that was portrayed by the pearl was at the conclusion of the story when their son, Coyotito, for whom they sought the pearl in the first place, was shot and killed. When analyzing The Pearl from a formalist perspective, it is unmistakable that the use of foreshadowing at the beginning of the short story gives an insight to the reader as what to expect as the story persists. The images of light and hope reflect a new bright future for Kino’s family while the elements of darkness that are derived from greed lead to the demise of the family as their first born and only son, Coyotito, dies. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck cleverly utilizes foreshadowing to suggest to the reader what to expect as the story goes along.

Grapes of Wrath ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Summary John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel that was published in 1939 was about the hardships families faced during the Dust Bowl. After spending years in prison, Tom Joad made his way back to his family’s farm in Oklahoma. When Tom arrives home he finds all the farms in the local vicinity deserted. A neighbor informs Tom that all the families have been forced off their lands and have set out to California to look for new jobs. Tom eventually catches up with his family only to see them picking up their last few possessions as they are setting out to California to work as fruit-pickers. The novel continues as the Joad family along with others travel from Oklahoma to California in search of opportunities. Upon arrival in California, the Joad family comes to find that there are no jobs available because of the outpour of people who have come in search of jobs, and shortly after, Noah, their oldest son, abandons the family. Because of the massive number of people who turn up in California, large landowners keep the migrants poor and dependent. The Joad’s hopeless for opportunity wonder from one place to another in search of jobs first from fruit picking onto cotton picking. With the end of the cotton picking season people are eager knowing that they will be laid off because there is no use for them. Throughout the novel, there is a cynical and pessimistic tone as the Joad family along with others search for opportunities to provide them with enough money to live soundly.

What Critics Had to Say John R. Dahl on behalf of Films, Inc. had much to say about the award winning film, The Grapes of Wrath that was based on the original novel written in 1939 by John Steinbeck. Dahl mentioned how the film The Grapes of Wrath brought to reality the lives of migrants during the Dust Bowl. Dahl stated, “It is often difficult for contemporary students to conceptualize the stark reality of the dust bowl, the depth of despair felt by the “Okies” (migrants), the hardships brought on by loss of property and ensuing relocation. Books and articles seem inadequate when it comes to presenting a human tragedy which was so much a part of the nation’s history in the thirties”. Grapes of Wrath, Film Inc. Article

In an article by William H. Mullins about Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath Mullins discusses the difficulty of life during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the “depression era migrants”. Mullin makes it clear that The Grapes of Wrath clearly is a novel dedicated to the lives of individuals who suffered a great deal during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Mullin also points out that the article focuses on “humans cannot function well as individuals, or as separate families” this is mainly because during the Great Depression, families had to stick together and work wherever jobs were available to provide enough income for everyone to live a stable life. Grapes of Wrath, William H. Mullins Article

From a Historical Perspective Like Dahl and Mullins criticisms, in analyzing John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath from a historical perspective, it is evident that because Steinbeck lived through the Dust Bowl and Great Depression events from those two occurrences highly influenced the context of the novel including the setting and plot. During the 1930s, the United States faced the Dust Bowl which was a period of severe dust storms that damaged soil and grasses making it hard to grow crops, thus causing harm the agricultural industry. Due to the lack of good quality soil and little rainfall, farmers were unable to produce crops to generate income for their living. With barren lands and homes seized in foreclosure several hundreds of families were forced to migrate hoping to find suitable land in the west. Through The Grapes of Wrath, it is apparent that John Steinbeck portrayed the hard life that Americans faced as they had to adapt a nomadic lifestyle as they migrated in search of fertile lands. Set in Oklahoma, The Grapes of Wrath reveals the story of families who struggled to make ends meet during the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl and Great Depression went hand in hand. The Dust Bowl which left families destitute brought upon a time known as the Great Depression. As its name suggests, the Great Depression was characterized by economic depression and widespread poverty. Not only in the introduction, but throughout The Grapes of Wrath there is a cynical tone and a recurrent image of the drought and winds that carried dusts so thick that the eminent glow of stars could not penetrate through the thick “fog”. Steinbeck stated, “When the night came again it was a black night, for the stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards”. Because of the drought there was little hope for agricultural and activity every morning, the men stood outside their homes, hopeless, knowing that with each passing day and with little rainfall, but enough dust to cover the entire earth with a thick blanket, their crops would gradually all die and they would be forced off their farms. Steinbeck illustrated a despondent image when he stated, “Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a little green showing through the film of the dust”. Because families were forced off their farms, almost all the families traveled to California in search of jobs where there was an outpour of migrants and just not enough jobs available for everyone. Steinbeck depicted the struggle of the Joad family as they were placed in one job after another trying to make a living. Although during the Dust Bowl people were very pessimistic about their fortune, there was always hope that somewhere there was fruitful land and plentiful rain that would help farmers and their families get back on their feet. This hope was illustrated in Chapter 3 when Steinbeck used the image of a turtle to depict the unconscious death and rebirth of a family in relation to migration. When a family would migrate from their existing farms and travel to search for prolific land, they would die in a sense that they would lose their self identity having to start over and build a new reputation in unfamiliar territory. Families would have to start from scratch, those who owned farms were forced to work onto other people’s farms in California to gather enough money to purchase their own farm in the west. But on a more positive note, the family would be reborn because they would be given another opportunity to produce enough income to support their lifestyle. The turtle symbolized this cycle because the head of a wild oat caught onto the turtle’s shell and along the way, the head of a wild oat fell out of his shell, and the turtle while walking covered the oat in dust giving it an opportunity to grow and be reborn once there was rainfall. In describing this event, Steinbeck declared, “The wild oat head fell out and three of the spearhead seeds stuck in the ground. And as the turtle crawled on down the embankment, its shell dragged dirt over the seeds”. In the end of the novel, there is a sense of hope as the drought ended and brought about a flood. In chapter twenty nine, Steinbeck describes the first sign of hope, rain, when he affirms, The rain began with gusty showers, pauses and downpours; and then gradually it settle to a single tempo, small drops and a steady beat, rain that was gray to see through, rain that cut midday light to evening. And at first the dry earth sucked the moisture down and blackened. For two days the earth drank the rain, until the earth was full. Then puddles formed, and in the low places little lakes formed in the fields. Although the flood itself was terrible, it was a sign of optimism revealing that the drought had come to a conclusion. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a novel about the struggle of the Joad family and similar middle class families who have lost their farms and set out in search of jobs in California. The novel encompasses various features of the 1930s Dust Bowl and Great Depression such as poverty, struggle and despair. Although The Grapes of Wrath is not a novel directly about Steinbeck and his family, it is a firsthand account of life during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression taking into account that Steinbeck lived through both appalling events.">John Steinbeck 28th Annual Steinbeck Festival Fest08web.pdfOf Mice and Men Summary Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men, a short story in 1937 that highlight was a novella about two men who struggled to find jobs. The novel begins with the two protagonists, George and Lennie who are forced out of their jobs when Lennie, the mentally incompetent protagonist is accused of “raping” a woman. When George finds out that Lennie is being falsely accused, to protect his friend, they both set out to find a job on a farm in Salinas, California. While at their new jobs on the farm, George and Lennie make several friends and share their version of the “American Dream” with their coworkers. Their dream consists of having their own farm where they do not have to work under someone else’s authority, a place to call their own. Lennie who is a large, but gentle being who tends to always hurt animals by simply playing with them because of his strength wishes to mend rabbits. George on the other hand is quite the opposite of Lennie. Although George is a short man he is seen as Lennie’s caretaker. Every time Lennie gets in trouble, George, acting as a fatherly figure, bails Lennie out. Throughout the novel, there are several instances where Lennie has animals that he unintentionally kills. As the novel proceeds, the animals become larger in form. (ex: mouse…dog…etc) These acts foreshadow the climax of the story when Lennie stroking his boss’ wife’s hair and she tells Lennie to let go of her hair or she will scream. Panicked, Lennie grabs a hold of her hair tightly, and as she screams, Lennie closes her mouth and unintentionally strangles her and breaks her neck. The boss’s wife dies on the spot and Lennie is the one to blame. Lennie immediately fled the scene, and when George found him near the Salinas River, he is forced to shoot and kill Lennie because George knows that if he does not kill his companion, than the other workers more so his boss will eventually torture and kill Lennie. What Critics Had to Say In the article, Steinbeck and the Great Depression, Morris Dickenson briefly mentions some of Steinbeck’s novel including Of Mice and Men. When referring to Of Mice and Men, Dickenson states that the novel is clearly about the hope and ambitions of the two protagonists. Dickenson also realizes that the need for these dreams and ambitions portrayed though the novel were not only the characters ambitions, but Steinbeck’s himself. Dickenson declares, “Some readers have always found these characters to be too elemental, yet they reflect the primal needs that Steinbeck discovered in himself—a longing for animal warmth, the feeling of security, and the reassuring touch of other living creatures”. From that statement, it is clear that part of Steinbeck’s short story was derived from his life. Steinbeck and the Great Depression, Morris Dickenson ArticleFrom a Biographical Perspective Like Dickenson’s article, in analyzing John Steinbeck’s famous novel Of Mice and Men from a biographical perspective, it is evident that several aspects of the novel were influenced directly by Steinbeck’s life. From the beginning of the novel to the very last page, it is clear that Steinbeck’s storyline was persuaded by the hardships that Steinbeck faced throughout his life. Although some factors of Steinbeck’s life that were portrayed in the novel were noticeable, most other factors were quiet concealed and could only be detected by conducting a “deeper reading” of the text. For instance, right from the introduction of the novel, the setting of the story takes place in a farm in California, more specifically the Salinas Valley where Steinbeck was born, raised, and worked on his father’s farm. Less obvious aspects of the novel that reflected parts of Steinbeck’s life were the main characters in Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie. The protagonists in this novel, George and Lennie are not only representative of Steinbeck’s relationship with his best friend Ed Ricketts, but they also embody the personality of Steinbeck and his father. George, like Steinbeck’s father who was the caretaker of John Steinbeck, looked after his companion Lennie. “Steinbeck described his father as a somewhat withdrawn man, frustrated by his lack of success in business yet also strong, gentle, and sensitive”. George reflected Thomas, Steinbeck’s father, because like Thomas, George, although he was strong on the outside, he had gentle and sensitive side. In the novel, George knew that his life would be much better if he did not have to take care of Lennie. George stated, “God, you’re a lot of trouble. I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl”. Although George wished that he did not have to deal with Lennie, he is kind to Lennie because he knows that he is Lennie’s only friend, and thus, George acts as a fatherly figure and takes care of Lennie and helps him when he is in trouble. On the other hand there is Lennie, the anti social character and “reject in society” who cannot take care of himself. Lennie portrays John Steinbeck because, “He (Steinbeck) was somewhat of a social failure. Shy and withdrawn, he was not particularly good-looking or athletic, had no close friends, and eschewed most social activities”. Although Steinbeck was anti social in his earlier years, he became more confident in his later years and eventually got married, but during his lifetime, Steinbeck had an affair with Gwendolyn Conger, an actress. In the novel, Lennie has “thing” with a woman who is the boss’ son’s wife, also referred to as Curley’s wife. Curley’s wife is drawn to Lennie and as she tries to flirt with him in an aggressive move, Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck, and she dies instantly. At the conclusion of the novel, George has to kill Lennie because if he did not kill Lennie then Lennie would have to face Curley for killing his wife. Although Steinbeck did not kill his best friend Ed Ricketts, like Lennie, Ricketts was killed due to a car accident. Throughout his life, Steinbeck was also fearful of abandonment, and it was stated, “Steinbeck often grappled with self-doubt and a fear of loneliness…”. When Steinbeck’s best friend passed away Steinbeck felt lonely. Like Steinbeck, Lennie was very fearful of abandonment. When Crooks asked Lennie what he would do if George left him, Lennie said, “George wun’t go away and leave me. I know George wun’t do that”. Like Steinbeck who depended on someone for support, Lennie looked to George to look out for him. Another major theme that was based on John Steinbeck’s life and not so clear in the novel was the “American Dream”. When Steinbeck was born in 1902, California was filled with opportunities especially because of the gold rush that had previously taken place. Steinbeck also lived through the Great Depression in which there were very few opportunities of achieving the American Dream. Steinbeck who did at one point suffer financially, he eventually became somewhat affluent after getting married to his first wife purchased a home on fifty acres of land. In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie had always dreamed of owning their own ranch. Throughout the novel on various occasions, the ranch is described in great detail. George stated, “Well, it’s ten acres. Got a little win’mill. Got a little shack on it, an’ a chicken run, Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, ‘cots, nuts, got a few berries. They’s a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it”. Unlike Steinbeck who purchased his own land, George and Lennie failed to do so, and their American Dream was left unsuccessful like the millions of others who lived during the Great Depression. When analyzing Of Mice and Men from a biographical perspective, it is unmistakable that Steinbeck’s life influenced the novel and various features of his life are intertwined directly in the novel. The protagonists personify Steinbeck himself as well as his father and Steinbeck’s relationship with his best friend, while the hardships and failure to obtain the American Dream describes Steinbeck’s hardships in his life as he lived through the Great Depression and Stock Market Crash. The Pearl Summary The Pearl, a short story that was written in 1947 was a novel about poverty in Mexican villages. Because of its context with Mexico, The Pearl was chosen as one of the highlighted texts for this year’s annual Steinbeck festival. In the novel, Kino, the protagonist was in need of money because his son, Coyotito was bitten by a scorpion and needed medical attention. Because Kino, like many other Mexicans in La Paz was poor he set out to find a pearl that would pay for medical fees. Sure enough, Kino found what La Paz characterized as “the pearl of the world”. Kino and his family immediately became greedy and began to think of all the things they could accomplish with the fortune from the pearl. One thing lead to the next and before you knew it, all the people of La Paz were trying to get their hands on this one of a kind pearl. Late at night a person snuck into Kino’s house trying to get a hold of the pearl. In fear for her life, Kino’s wife, Juana sees the pearl as a sign of evil and tells Kino to dispose of the pearl. When Kino refuses to dispose of the pearl, Juana takes the pearl and tries to toss it back into the sea, but Kino finds her and stops her right in time. When Kino arrives back into town, a group of violent men try to take the pearl, but in an act of self defense, Kino unintentionally kills one of the men. Convinced Kino would be labeled as a murderer, the family decides to flee from the scene. In a vandalistic act, neighbors destroy Kino’s get away boat and burn down Kino’s house and because of the house fire; neighbors are convinced that Kino and his family died. As they escape from the fire and head to the capital to sell their pearl, they find that three trackers are following them and in hope to escape Kino and his family hide in a cave. As sunrises, Kino lets out a cry and in while Kino was wrestling with the trackers who found their hideout, the trackers fire a shot and Kino’s son Coyotito dies. In the end, while Juana is carrying her dead son over her shoulder, Kino goes to the river and throws the pearl back into the sea. From a Formalist Perspective In analyzing John Steinbeck’s famous short story The Pearl from a formalist perspective, it is evident that Steinbeck utilized various literary devices. The Pearl which was set in La Paz, a Mexican village revealed the poverty in Mexico, and because of its reference to Mexico, The Pearl was chosen as one of the short stories to be presented at this year’s annual Steinbeck festival. The Pearl, as suggested by the title is about a destitute family that obtains “relief” when they find a priceless pearl. Through the use of literary devices and using the elements of light and dark, Steinbeck succeeds in revealing the rise and downfall of the family. One of the most important themes in The Pearl was the theme of light and dark or of good and evil. Because of the aspect of light the reader can infer that a joyous event will change the family’s life, but because of the shadow of darkness, the reader can also infer that the family will face a treacherous end. From the commencement of the story Steinbeck utilizes foreshadowing to portray the various aspects of light and dark through the use of the physical description of numerous characters and to describe the setting for the story. For instance when the protagonist, Kino, describes his wife’s eyes he declares, “Her dark little eyes made little reflected stars”. This statement is contradictory in the sense that although Kino’s wife’s eyes are dark they emanate light. Another example of a statement that exposes the reader to the factors of light and dark is when Steinbeck first introduces Kino stating, “He lowered his blanket from his nose, now, for the dark poisonous air was gone and the yellow sunlight fell on the house”. In this story, Kino’s son, Coyotito, is bitten by a venomous scorpion and in order to save Coyotito’s life, Kino needs to find a way to compensate for medical expenses. The joyous event that the family experiences is when Kino discovers what their neighbors refer to as “the pearl of the world”. The pearl embodied qualities of light and hope because not only was it going to produce sufficient funds to heal Coyotito’s wound, but it also signified wealth and a way out of poverty for Kino and his family. More so than hope and light, the pearl signified darkness and Steinbeck directly stated that in the text. After the neighbors heard that Kino possessed the pearl of the world, Steinbeck stated, “The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; the black distillate was like the scorpion, or like hunger in the smell of food, or like the loneliness when love is withheld. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it”. Also, the pearl symbolizes darkness as it becomes representative of one of the seven deadly sins which is greed. As observed through the story, Kino and his wife began to forget why they set out to find the pearl which was to cure their son Coyotito. When asked what they were going to do with all the money from the pearl, Kino said that they will be married in a church and as he looked closer at the pearl he saw the whole family with new cloths, a harpoon, and rifle. In a descriptive image, Kino described what he saw in the pearl, which was how he saw the family dressed. Steinbeck declares, In the pearl he saw how they were dressed- Juana in a shawl stiff with newness and a new skirt, and from under the long skirt Kino could see that she wore shoes. It was in the pearl- the picture glowing there. He himself was dressed in new white clothes, and he carried a new hat-not of straw but of fine black felt-and he too wore shoes-not sandals but shoes that laced. But Coyotito-he was the one-he was a blue sailor suit from the United States and a little yachting cap… Another source of the pearl acting as an entity of darkness is observed when a thief tries to steal the pearl and in an aggressive act of self defense or even possibly out of greed, Kino accidently kills the thief. Lastly, the most vital indication of darkness that was portrayed by the pearl was at the conclusion of the story when their son, Coyotito, for whom they sought the pearl in the first place, was shot and killed. When analyzing The Pearl from a formalist perspective, it is unmistakable that the use of foreshadowing at the beginning of the short story gives an insight to the reader as what to expect as the story persists. The images of light and hope reflect a new bright future for Kino’s family while the elements of darkness that are derived from greed lead to the demise of the family as their first born and only son, Coyotito, dies. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck cleverly utilizes foreshadowing to suggest to the reader what to expect as the story goes along.Grapes of Wrath Summary John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel that was published in 1939 was about the hardships families faced during the Dust Bowl. After spending years in prison, Tom Joad made his way back to his family’s farm in Oklahoma. When Tom arrives home he finds all the farms in the local vicinity deserted. A neighbor informs Tom that all the families have been forced off their lands and have set out to California to look for new jobs. Tom eventually catches up with his family only to see them picking up their last few possessions as they are setting out to California to work as fruit-pickers. The novel continues as the Joad family along with others travel from Oklahoma to California in search of opportunities. Upon arrival in California, the Joad family comes to find that there are no jobs available because of the outpour of people who have come in search of jobs, and shortly after, Noah, their oldest son, abandons the family. Because of the massive number of people who turn up in California, large landowners keep the migrants poor and dependent. The Joad’s hopeless for opportunity wonder from one place to another in search of jobs first from fruit picking onto cotton picking. With the end of the cotton picking season people are eager knowing that they will be laid off because there is no use for them. Throughout the novel, there is a cynical and pessimistic tone as the Joad family along with others search for opportunities to provide them with enough money to live soundly. What Critics Had to Say John R. Dahl on behalf of Films, Inc. had much to say about the award winning film, The Grapes of Wrath that was based on the original novel written in 1939 by John Steinbeck. Dahl mentioned how the film The Grapes of Wrath brought to reality the lives of migrants during the Dust Bowl. Dahl stated, “It is often difficult for contemporary students to conceptualize the stark reality of the dust bowl, the depth of despair felt by the “Okies” (migrants), the hardships brought on by loss of property and ensuing relocation. Books and articles seem inadequate when it comes to presenting a human tragedy which was so much a part of the nation’s history in the thirties”. Grapes of Wrath, Film Inc. ArticleIn an article by William H. Mullins about Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath Mullins discusses the difficulty of life during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the “depression era migrants”. Mullin makes it clear that The Grapes of Wrath clearly is a novel dedicated to the lives of individuals who suffered a great deal during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Mullin also points out that the article focuses on “humans cannot function well as individuals, or as separate families” this is mainly because during the Great Depression, families had to stick together and work wherever jobs were available to provide enough income for everyone to live a stable life. Grapes of Wrath, William H. Mullins ArticleFrom a Historical Perspective Like Dahl and Mullins criticisms, in analyzing John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath from a historical perspective, it is evident that because Steinbeck lived through the Dust Bowl and Great Depression events from those two occurrences highly influenced the context of the novel including the setting and plot. During the 1930s, the United States faced the Dust Bowl which was a period of severe dust storms that damaged soil and grasses making it hard to grow crops, thus causing harm the agricultural industry. Due to the lack of good quality soil and little rainfall, farmers were unable to produce crops to generate income for their living. With barren lands and homes seized in foreclosure several hundreds of families were forced to migrate hoping to find suitable land in the west. Through The Grapes of Wrath, it is apparent that John Steinbeck portrayed the hard life that Americans faced as they had to adapt a nomadic lifestyle as they migrated in search of fertile lands. Set in Oklahoma, The Grapes of Wrath reveals the story of families who struggled to make ends meet during the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl and Great Depression went hand in hand. The Dust Bowl which left families destitute brought upon a time known as the Great Depression. As its name suggests, the Great Depression was characterized by economic depression and widespread poverty. Not only in the introduction, but throughout The Grapes of Wrath there is a cynical tone and a recurrent image of the drought and winds that carried dusts so thick that the eminent glow of stars could not penetrate through the thick “fog”. Steinbeck stated, “When the night came again it was a black night, for the stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards”. Because of the drought there was little hope for agricultural and activity every morning, the men stood outside their homes, hopeless, knowing that with each passing day and with little rainfall, but enough dust to cover the entire earth with a thick blanket, their crops would gradually all die and they would be forced off their farms. Steinbeck illustrated a despondent image when he stated, “Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a little green showing through the film of the dust”. Because families were forced off their farms, almost all the families traveled to California in search of jobs where there was an outpour of migrants and just not enough jobs available for everyone. Steinbeck depicted the struggle of the Joad family as they were placed in one job after another trying to make a living. Although during the Dust Bowl people were very pessimistic about their fortune, there was always hope that somewhere there was fruitful land and plentiful rain that would help farmers and their families get back on their feet. This hope was illustrated in Chapter 3 when Steinbeck used the image of a turtle to depict the unconscious death and rebirth of a family in relation to migration. When a family would migrate from their existing farms and travel to search for prolific land, they would die in a sense that they would lose their self identity having to start over and build a new reputation in unfamiliar territory. Families would have to start from scratch, those who owned farms were forced to work onto other people’s farms in California to gather enough money to purchase their own farm in the west. But on a more positive note, the family would be reborn because they would be given another opportunity to produce enough income to support their lifestyle. The turtle symbolized this cycle because the head of a wild oat caught onto the turtle’s shell and along the way, the head of a wild oat fell out of his shell, and the turtle while walking covered the oat in dust giving it an opportunity to grow and be reborn once there was rainfall. In describing this event, Steinbeck declared, “The wild oat head fell out and three of the spearhead seeds stuck in the ground. And as the turtle crawled on down the embankment, its shell dragged dirt over the seeds”. In the end of the novel, there is a sense of hope as the drought ended and brought about a flood. In chapter twenty nine, Steinbeck describes the first sign of hope, rain, when he affirms, The rain began with gusty showers, pauses and downpours; and then gradually it settle to a single tempo, small drops and a steady beat, rain that was gray to see through, rain that cut midday light to evening. And at first the dry earth sucked the moisture down and blackened. For two days the earth drank the rain, until the earth was full. Then puddles formed, and in the low places little lakes formed in the fields. Although the flood itself was terrible, it was a sign of optimism revealing that the drought had come to a conclusion. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a novel about the struggle of the Joad family and similar middle class families who have lost their farms and set out in search of jobs in California. The novel encompasses various features of the 1930s Dust Bowl and Great Depression such as poverty, struggle and despair. Although The Grapes of Wrath is not a novel directly about Steinbeck and his family, it is a firsthand account of life during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression taking into account that Steinbeck lived through both appalling events.

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