The Private Life Of John Steinbeck Uncovered

1780 words - 7 pages

All authors have a story behind them and something that makes their writing unique. John Steinbeck was one of those authors. With a rocky start to Steinbeck’s life, her used his experiences and travels to develop works of literature that would be highly regarded and distinguished him as a premier American writer.
Born in Salinas, California; John Steinbeck was a quiet, very private man from the time he was born, and even with all the fame of his books (Swisher 15). From the start of his life, tragedy struck; beginning with the witnessing of an earthquake. Steinbeck witnessed an earthquake , which frightened him immensely (Swisher 13). After Steinbeck’s turbulent start to life, he continued to struggle when he started school. Because of his socially awkward nature, children at school began to tease him (Swisher 13). Since life was not getting any easier for young Steinbeck, his father decided to change they boy’s home environment by exposing him to the realistic lifestyle of farming. To help Steinbeck gain responsibility, his father bought him a pony, Jill, and let Steinbeck raise the pony as if it were the boy’s child (Swisher 14). His father’s techniques were successful because he began to excel in school so much that he was able to skip the fifth grade. Each summer, Steinbeck would go to visit his Aunt Molly, so he could experience literature and music that his parents could not give him (Swisher 14). One summer, Steinbeck’s aunt bought him a book as a gift, and Steinbeck hated the book (Swisher 14). “I stared at the black print with hatred, and then gradually the pages opened and let me in. The magic happened. The bible and Shakespeare and Pilgrim’s Progress belonged to everyone. But this was mine---Secretly mine,” wrote Steinbeck (Swisher 14). When Steinbeck finally read the book, he loved it and would read it with his sister Mary, and they would act the stories out. This simple exposure to literature would be the introduction Steinbeck needed for his career (Swisher 14).
Once Steinbeck discovered his love of literature as a young boy, he continued to read. His junior year drastically changed his life when he came down with a nearly fatal case of pneumonia. This near death experience led him to be more involved and he decided to take school more serious. In addition to advancing his education, he made a step in the right direction for his career by writing for a newspaper (Swisher 15). In 1919, Steinbeck enrolled in Stanford University. He developed a lack of motivation that did not help in college, and he only attended classes on and off and never attained a degree (Swisher 15). On a positive note, during Steinbeck’s time at Stanford University, he wrote articles that were published in the “Stanford Spectator.” So after all, his college life helped him in the long run. After he officially stopped attending college, he began writing his novels (Swisher 15). He started by writing three novels; Cup of Gold, Pasture of Heaven, and To a God...

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