The Great Depression In Of Mice And Men
John Steinbeck was an American author and Nobel Prize winner. Born on February 27, 1902, he grew to be one of the leading spokesman of the Great Depression. Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968. He often wrote books on fate and prejudice, which is shown in many of his pieces such as Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck asserted many philosophies and worldviews throughout his literary career. Steinbeck once stated, “Man is a double thing — a group animal and at the same time an individual. Man cannot successfully be the second until he has fulfilled the first” (Shilcutt). Steinbeck believed that in order for a man to flourish as an individual, that man first must achieve harmony as a group. Steinbeck was influenced as a child by his father, a “small-town politician” (‘John Ernst Steinbeck.’). He worked as a laborer and a laboratory assistant in order to fund his education at Stanford University. Through his success as a writer, Steinback was conscripted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007. He also earned a Nobel Prize award in 1962, and a Pulitzer Prize award in 1940 for his book, The Grapes of Wrath.
Although Steinback wrote a myriad of unique novels, they all contain common topics and address similar social issues. Such topics were “underdog stories, overcoming loneliness, and surpassing poverty” (Neville). Steinbeck felt sympathy towards the suppressed beings that he saw around him in his life. This sympathy is shown when he wrote underdog stories that support underdogs such as, East of Eden. Steinbeck enjoyed writing about underdogs for he himself was one. Being unsupported by his parents at the start of his career, hearing stories of poor farmers that he worked with, and watching people live the American life instigated him to show the world these ideas. Steinbeck’s childhood took place in Salinas, California which prompted him to write most of his stories about farms and agriculture. Salinas was and still is a large agricultural powerhouse. Most of the people there owned or helped out on farms. Steinbeck writes many novels that take place in farms like Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony which takes place in Steinbeck’s hometown. Steinbeck’s writing reflects on his life experiences which is why they are so similar. However they have variety because of the traveling and determination to experience more. In 1966 Steinbeck said that he “wanted to go to war so that he could experience everything” (Neville). Due to his many involvement in these events, his writing portrays many different topics.
The history of America in the 1930s is a story of the worst economic downfall that America has faced. This time was known as The Great Depression due to the lack of job availability and deflation. This caused hardships for all Americans, but even more so for minorities. The unemployment rate of the Great Depression was around twenty-five percent. However, the unemployment rate minorities in the States was fifty percent. Most American minorities struggled to keep their jobs, if they had one. Most jobs left over for minorities were dirty, laborious jobs that nobody else wanted. “Forty percent of jobs were tenant workers and sharecroppers” (“Minority Groups”). Due to the competition for jobs between whites and minorities, most minorities faced “threats at relief centers and denial at public works programs” (“Minority Groups”). Violence greatly increased against minorities in America to a point where, “Lynchings increased from 8 to 26 by 1933” (“Race Relations”). Minorities were also denied the ability to gain a union membership and the phrase – No jobs for blacks until every white man has a job – grew to be quite popular. Segregation stayed like this until 1932 when president Roosevelt was elected and began to sign the New Deal.
The Jim Crow Laws were any laws that imposed racial segregation in the Americas. The first of these laws was written in 1877 and the laws did not die out until 1950 when the civil rights movement began. Upon the creation of these laws, punishments as severe as “criminal fines or imprisonment” (“Jim Crow Law”). They even punished railroad employees who did not enforce such laws. One example is with restaurants in Alabama. “ It is unlawful to serve food in a manner that whites and blacks are served in the same room…” (“Examples of Jim”). This basically meant that unless there was a wall blocking the two dining areas, you could not serve whites in the same room as blacks. This often led to whites getting nicer places to dine, whereas the blacks were given the lower quality areas. Another example is Barbers in Georgia. “No colored barber shall serve as a barber to a white women or girls” (“Examples of Jim”). This leads to less business for black barbers due to the fact that they can serve less people. This is on top of the fact that many white males avoided vendors owned by colored people. In return it made it nearly impossible for colored barbers to excel or grow their business. A third example is the denial of intermarriage between colored and white races in Florida. “All marriges between a white person and a negro or person of negro descent is hereby prohibeted” (“Examples of Jim”). The segregation of negros via the Jim Crow Laws was shown all over America, but even moreso in the South were there was harsher punishments and stricter enforcement.
The Great Depression was a period of time from 1929 to 1940 when the stock markets crashed in America. This crash was caused by many things such as “overproduction of goods, lack of demand, bankruptcies, and lack of credit” (“Causes of The Great”). On top of all this, farmers were encouraged to move to the Great Plains but were not experienced in growing crops in arid environments. This caused failure to grow produce and created a lack of it in the markets. The United states lost 10-15 billion dollars from the crash and began the era of The Great Depression. Because of the loss in money, many people could not fund their employees, which forced the owners to lay them off. More than twenty-five percent of all Americans were out of a job by 1930. As for the Americans who retained their jobs, most received wage cuts. Twenty-thousand businesses went bankrupt and closed down which also caused many Americans to lose their jobs. In the 1920s America was thriving economically and because of this small and private banks were investing their customers deposits into stocks. When the market crashed people tried to withdraw their money from the banks but could not do so. Because of the crash the banks did not have enough money left over and went out of business. As for the banks that stayed in business, they “stopped giving out loans creating a lack of credit” (“Causes of the Great”).The Great Depression ended in 1941 when we entered World War II because a need for workers was sparked. This essentially traded an unemployment crisis across the country for debt because they needed to fund all of the workers.
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