John Steinbeck Essay, Research Paper
English 3 mod.o
8 june 2000
JohnSteinbeck was born in February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California.
Salinas was an agricultural valley in California. His father was the county
treasurer and his mother was a schoolteacher. This is where his education
began from a mother that encouraged him to read. The community was a
comfortable environment for him to live in because of the encouragement of
independence and initiative. His parents didn’t want him to be a writer. They
wanted him to have a true profession as a lawyer. His early interest in
reading led him through school, with his main interest in science. At age 15
he decided to become a writer, influenced by an English teacher, and faintly
remembered by schoolmates for spending so much time in his room writing.
After graduating from high school, he went to Stanford University in
1920. While he was there for five he contributed to the school paper by
writing poems and comics. He took courses in science and writing, but
never received a degree. In 1925, when he left Stanford, he became a marine
biologist. He moved to New York in 1925 to work as a reporter for a
newspaper. Always being a non-conformist, he was fired from the
newspaper for writing opinions instead of facts. This started the many jobs
he would be a part of in his lifetime. Some of these jobs include an
apprentice carrier, an apprentice printer, a working chemist, caretaker of
Lake Tahoe Estate, surveyor in Big Sur County, and a fruit picker. He also
worked other more physically labored jobs, such as a rancher, road worker,
deck hand, cotton picker, and bricklayer.
While involved in these jobs, he made many close friends that he
came to admire because of their “cant and hypocrisy” which he applauded
and whom all of these people soon were characters in his novels. Many of
these experiences were the “helpers” to his many novels. His fruit picking
and Great Depression led him to write The Grapes of Wrath, his best known
and most ambitious of his works. Also, he wrote Of Mice and Men, which
was formed from his job as a hired hand on the many farms he worked.
Many things affected his writing of the time period of which he wrote.
Things like the Great Depression, World War 2, and the Vietnam War are
the major influences. World War 2 was when he was working for the federal
government as a writer, so his works focused on greed and materialism in
the beings of modern civilization, Cannery Row and The Wayward Bus are
two good examples of this idea. After World War 2, he wrote mainly of
several outcasts. The Grapes of Wrath was an influential piece from the
Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that existed in California. It is about
the migration of farm families, leaving their old towns to become “ghost
A bit of inventions came into effect during this time period.
Technology was changing the way that Americans lived and worked. The
player piano was invented in 1905. Henry Ford Model T in 1908. Everyone
has heard of the Titanic right? Well, it sunk in 1912. One of the most
important things that has ever happened in history occurred in 1921. It was
the date of the first Miss America Pageant. The Great Depression began in
1928. The great Golden Gate Bridge was also completed in 1937. John
Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald seemed to divide America up into a new
age or era. Fitzgerald seemed to work more with the rich, finding pity and
terror in them. Steinbeck took to the growing of California, the Depression,
John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize award for his book The Grapes
of Wrath in 1940. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize award in 1962. He
was the sixth American to win the Nobel Prize for literature. His novel,
Tortilla Flat, received the California Commonwealth Club’s annual gold
medal for the best novel by a California writer. It was adopted for the stage
and sold to Hollywood. He focused somewhat on nature, with some
“humor,” but seemed to have sympathy for “the oppressed, misfits, and the
distressed.” He wrote about conflicts between his feelings for nature and his
sympathy for human beings. To be natural and not respectable, was in his
fiction, the controlling force of the universe. He was best known for his
basis on the American experience often with sympathetic focus on the poor,
eccentric, or the dispossessed. The Grapes of Wrath, which he wrote in
1939, was his best known and most famous work. It won the Pulitzer Prize
in 1940. This book consisted of a family that migrated from the Dust Bowl
to California to finally experience death, disease, and starvation. This book,
like many of his works, turned out to also be a famous movie.
He was married 3 times. He fathered two boys to his second wife.
Their names were John and Tom. John Steinbeck died on December 20,
1968 in New York City. I looked to see if he died of some kind of illness,
but did not find anything. So I think he must have died of natural causes.