• -used this setting as the backdrop for many of his novels
• -attended Stanford but did not graduate
• -worked at various jobs to survive including fruit picking, care taking and journalist.
• -first successful novel was published in 1935 (Tortilla Flat)
• -1936 published Of Mice and Men.
• -won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for his novel The Grapes of Wrath which is about one family’s 1930s migration from the dust bowl in Oklahoma to the “promised land” of California.
• -married in 1930, divorced in 1942.
• -1962 won the Nobel Prize for Literature
• -1968 died in New York City.
II. Steinbeck’s Writings:
• -he emphasized the need for humans to be in partnership with nature.
-his characters are the outcasts of society, poor, uneducated and often rebellious.
III. The Novel
1. Themes to look for:
• Economic hardships
• Dreams and hope lost
• Alienation of the individual
• Rootless Americans (unwanted)
• Isolation from society (drifters)
• Man’s need to belong
Tracking Overall ThemeHumans need to belong some-
where and to someone. Steinbeck emphasizes that people have dreams and that they have a right to achieve modest goals. However, the world beats down people and dooms their dreams and isolates them from society and each other.
*Make sure to track that theme and the characters that display that in the novel for a possible timed writing
• Mid-state California
• Region is heavily farmed and rural
• 1930’s, Great Depression
Causes of The Depression
• Unequal distribution of Wealth
• War Debt• Stock Market crash
Effects of The Depression• Widespread
• Worldwide economic crisis
Farm life during the Depression
Midwest Drought and Dust Bowl
Migrant workers traveled to find places to work
Town of Weed• Place where George and
Lennie originally worked• Town’s name suggests
something unwanted… a parallel to the theme of unwanted human beings…notice who is unwanted in novel
3. Title of novel• Title is a literary allusion taken from Robert Burn’s poem “To a Mouse” The poem deals with a plowman’s accidental killing of a mouse’s nest.
• Burns summarizes the situation of the poor mouse by saying: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/…Gang aft agley” (Scottish saying that means –plans often go astray). The title draws back to the theme of dreams lost…notice who’s dreams are lost in the novel