The Pain of the Okies Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath Essay

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The Pain of the Okies Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath


The Dust bowl was an ecological and human disaster in the Southwestern Great Plains regions of the United States in the 1930's. The areas affected were Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. The poor handling of the land and years of drought caused this great disaster (Jones "History"). During this time the "Okies"--a name given to the migrants that traveled from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, or anywhere in the Southwest or the northern plains to California--encountered many hardships. These hardships are brilliantly shown in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Scholars agree, "The most important fact about the dust storms was not scientific but human: their tragic effect
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While in grammar school John had a paper route that went through the Mexican neighborhoods. These trips helped inspire his later stories. As in grammar school, Steinbeck was picked on in high school. This time it was not just students, but the teachers also classified John as stupid based only on his physical features. In one account of Steinbeck's life we are given evidence that teachers would often make fun of him in front of their classes. Regardless of his dramas in high school Steinbeck graduated in 1918 with the other twenty-four students in his class (Swisher 15).



Steinbeck attended Standard on and off for six years, but never earned a degree. When Steinbeck was not attending school he was working as a laborer. He often worked with migrants and lived with them. The exposure Steinbeck received from migrants would later help shape the characters he wrote about (Swisher 15).



Steinbeck never graduated Standard and it would take years before he was truly recognized. In 1935 Pascal Covici declared he wanted to be Steinbeck's permanent publisher. When Covici published Tortilla Flat it soon became settled on the best-seller list, making Steinbeck famous (Swisher 17-19). Now Steinbeck was known and it helped him land good opportunities in the writing field. When the chef editor from the San Francisco News,…

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