John Steinbeck's Compassion For The Loneliness And Isolation Suffered By Ordinary People In Of Mice And Men

3916 words - 16 pages

John Steinbeck's Compassion for the Loneliness and Isolation Suffered by Ordinary People in Of Mice and Men

The Great Depression was the worst and longest economic collapse in
the history of the modern industrial world, lasting from the end of
1929 until the early 1940's. The Depression was caused by a number of
serious weaknesses in the U.S. economy. The lingering effects of World
War 1 caused economic problems in many countries, as Europe struggled
to pay war debts and reparations. These problems contributed to the
crisis that began the Great Depression. The unstable economy and the
uneven distribution of wealth led the American economy to collapse.

Factories closed, banks failed and unemployment soared. Agricultural
areas suffered too. As the price of crops fell some farmers could not
repay their loans and their homes and land were taken from them. Those
who had managed to stay afloat then faced a natural disaster. A long
period of drought had reduced the soil to little more than dust in
some areas. High winds then blew the top layer of soil away just
leaving the exposed rock and grit below. The land was barren and
worthless. Consequently, the homesteads were boarded up and these
families went on the road like so many millions of others, in search
of work. As there was so much unemployment and competition for jobs,
men saw each other as competition, this conveys a sense of loneliness
and isolation that friendship would be a luxury so one would not be
able to have companionship. This is shown in 'Of Mice and Men' as
everyone believes that George and Lennie travelling 'together' is
strange.

John Steinbeck can relate to this as he was travelling at the very
time that the Great Depression was happening. As a result of this
Steinbeck experienced first hand what life was like to be in and out
of jobs, travelling alone. Steinbeck was born on February 27th, 1902
in Salinas, California. In 1919 he graduated from High School and
entered Stanford University but he never completed a degree and
finally dropped out of college in 1925, and went out to work on
ranches. John Steinbeck undertook a series of manual unskilled jobs
one of which was a farm labourer on ranches from King City to South
Clara in Northern California. It was this experience which seems
subsequently to have provided him with the setting for his short novel
'Of Mice and Men'. He absorbed all the details, and so he knew what it
was like to be hungry and not know when the next meal was going to
arrive. Because of this, he had a fascinating insight into the
loneliness and isolation that people suffered.

John Steinbeck invests his writing with a realism that only someone
who had experienced the depression could convey. As he shared the same
experiences as his characters, the writing has a real sense of
authenticity. From...

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