Novels by Steinbeck
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Throughout his illustrious career, John Steinbeck produced a number of novel, novellas, and short stories that are critical to American literary history. Some stories were reflective of what he experienced or witnessed in his own life; others were fictional accounts that merely reflected growing societal trends. No matter what their story, though, Steinbeck’s novels always presented rich characters, well-defined settings, and complex themes to help convey his overall messages.
Steinbeck is arguably most famous for is so-called “Dust Bowl Trilogy”: three novels that chronicle the experiences of average Americans throughout the trying times of the 1930s in Middle America. The first, entitled In Dubious Battle, was published in 1936 and tells the story of fruit pickers that go on strike in California. The labor uprising works in conjunction with a mysterious group called “the party”; though the identity of this group is never formally explained, literary scholars believe it to be an allusion to the Communist Party, a very credible threat in Steinbeck’s time.
The latter two books of the trilogy are arguably the more famous: Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. The former, written as a play, is about two migrant ranch workers; it demonstrates the complexities that existed in American society during the Great Depression, and included issues of racism, loneliness, and prejudice against those with mental illnesses. The latter of these is arguably the most famous of Steinbeck’s works. This novel provides insight into the lives of sharecroppers during the Great Depression and the unique challenges they faced. It was immensely popular with the working class, as so many of his novels are, because it gives a voice to individuals that might have otherwise gone unheard.