"Mice and Men"-Historical Context

By: Alexander Johnson & Justin DeFrancisco

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was the longest and deepest economic drought downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. It began on October 24, 1929 when the stock market had the worst crash in its history. It was caused by consumer spending dropping and unsold goods piling up which slowed production. Stock prices also continued to rise and by the fall had reached levels that couldn’t be anticipated by future earnings. Investors panicked, trading a record 12.9 million shares on the day known as “Black Thursday.” That record was subsequently broken on the following Tuesday known as “Black Tuesday” when investors traded 16 million more shares. Millions of these shares were now worthless, leaving investors in insurmountable debt. Consumers lost confidence after the crash, and began spending less money. Businesses began slowing down their production and began firing workers. Many Americans were now in serious debt as foreclosures and repossessions increased.

President Herbert Hoover spent time assuring the American public that the crisis would run its course. However by 1931, 6 million Americans were unemployed. Homeless people, breadlines, and soup kitchens became more and more common as the country’s industrial production dropped by half. With thousands of banks closed, America needed a leader to be able to step in and solve this crisis. That man was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt won the presidential election of 1932 and took in a country with over 20% of its population (13-15 million people) unemployed. Roosevelt gave a heartfelt speech at his first inauguration to project calmness and proclaiming that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Roosevelt set out a plan called the New Deal which had the goal of ending the Great Depression. Through its many programs and institutions, the New Deal effectively ended the struggles of the Great Depression. Notably after the Great Depression ended in 1935 Congress passed the Social Security Act which provided Americans with unemployment, disability, and pensions for old age for the first time.
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The Great Depression: Crash Course US History #33

The American Dream

The American Dream is more of an opinionated topic. It is based on your past, family, and culture. The term ranges from a lot of different words and opinions. It is more of a Nationalism topic where Americans want to make it seem like an amazing thing. First the definition of “The American Dream”. Definition: The Ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative (Google Definition). James Truslow Adams said: A land that is Fuller and Richer Where life should be better with opportunity that applies to everyone.

As you can see the american dream was meant to be a great thing where people can go to be free. There is social order, opportunity,equality,happiness, and freedom. This can be found in the Declaration of Independance. The Declaration of Independence states that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is what Americans want to make or what they believe the dream is. Many people have different opinions, however: The American Dream has become earning material and not living free. People work more hours to get nice cars and homes. The have less time to enjoy what they earned, and their life, and family. Others say that the American Dream is poor folk who must work two jobs to survive. Others think the American Dream is not financial gain and more on living a simple, fulfilling life. (Link)

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John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr was a famous american author that has wrote classics of western literature. He was born on February 27th 1902. In his life John wrote 27 books. He wrote 16 novels 6 Non-Fiction books, and 5 collections of short stories. He is most know for Tortilla Flat (written in 1935), Cannery Row (1945) East of Eden (1952),and Of Mice and Men (1939), The Red Pony (1937), the Grapes of Wrath (1939) The Grapes of Wrath is his most famous book, selling 14 million copies in 75 years! Also this book won him The Pulitzer Prize. His great author life ended on December 20th 1968.

One of Steinbeck’s most notable accomplishments was when in 1962 he won the Nobel Prize in literature for what was quoted as “realistic and imaginative writing.” However, this accomplishment was met with scrutiny as one Swedish newspaper described the selection as “one of the Academy’s biggest mistakes.” Not only that, the New York Times wondered why the Nobel committee would give the award to an author whose “limited talent is, in his best books, watered down by tenth-rate philosophising.” Even Steinbeck himself wondered why he had received the award, being quoted as responding “Frankly, no” when asked if he felt he deserved the award. Interestingly, in 2012, the Nobel Prize opened its archives and revealed that Steinbeck had been a “compromise choice” amongst a list consisting of Robert Graves, Lawrence Durrell, Jean Anouilh, and Karen Blixen.

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