Of Mice and Men

Context Infographic by Joey Merkel

The Great Depression

For a total of 10 years, starting in 1929, America faced its longest lasting and most devastating financial crisis it had encountered-- The Great Depression. On October 24, 1929, after large amounts of surplus goods from industries and the continual rise of stock prices, investors traded about 13 million shares. Five days later, on "Black Tuesday", 16 million were shared, but were completely useless, due to all the money put into the stocks en masse, making the stocks practically worthless. The crash sent Wall Street into a panic, and crippled nearly half of the American banks.

Consumer confidence had vanished in industry, and demand dramatically slowed down. The minority who still had their jobs had a massive hit to their wages, and their buying power decreased. Because of the gold standard, in which all money adhered to, the Depression spread throughout the world. Industry was never the same until Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to ally against the axis powers at the start of World War II, and industry started up again to produce defense. Industry was in full swing again by 1942 with the Pearl Harbor bombing, causing America to go to war.

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The American Dream

The American Dream was a concept made popular in 1931 by James Truslow Adams, in this book The Epic of America. Although the Dream had many connotations and was interpreted differently by a variety of people, Adams' idea was popular in that every working man in America should have a richer and fuller life, filled with high wages, a nice car, and a family in which they can earn anything that they have the capability to recieve. Adams stated that it wasn't a dream the European upper class could understand, and was something the American populous had become weary to, which sparked interest into what life could be like at the fullest.

This American way inspired a mass amount of immigrants looking for material wealth, and almost expecting it once they migrated to America. However, nothing was promised, to the disapproval of immigrants, and the American Dream remained a dream that some people couldn't get to. For more modest people, the American dream could've been happiness or equality by any stretch, but the motivation behind long hours and big wages was mostly happiness from wealth and material goods.

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John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was an American author born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. In 1929, Steinbeck wrote his first novel, Cup of Gold, a story about a privateer, which was not a successful book in the least. He went on to write more books with little success like To a God Unknown, Pastures of Heaven, The Red Pony and The Long Valley. Steinbeck had his first real success with Tortilla Flat in 1935, and became a popular author throughout World War II.

Steinbeck's focus on writing was on social justice and the human condition and life in America in the early to mid 1900's, generally in California. He also focused on being a farmer and trying to reach The American Dream. In his book, The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck focuses on the changes farmers face when industry starts setting in and they start to feel unneeded for all the work and time the farmers have put into their job. They must move across the country where their work is needed just to keep their livings.

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