Of Mice and Men Context

Jess Rogers and Kaitlyn Tuttle

The American Dream

The American Dream is defined as "dream of a land in which life should be better, richer, and fuller for every man, with opportunity to his ability or achievement". In the 20th Century, historian James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase "American Dream" in his book Epic of America that he wrote in 1931. The American Dream is not a dream of motor cars and high wages, but a dream of social order in which each man and woman should be able to attain to the fullest of which they are capable, and be recognized by others for what they are. Some people say that the American Dream is the pursuit of material prosperity, which means to have a lot of possessions. People work more hours to get a bigger home and fancier cars, yet they have less time to enjoy it. Others believe that the American Dream is beyond the grasp of the poor people that have to work two jobs to keep their families alive. Some Americans are not focused on financial gain, but on living a simple, yet fulfilling life.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression had an immense impact on the United States. The nation began its descent into chaos during the 1920’s. The United States was at its highest point of prosperity. Businesses were growing quickly once american citizens realized how to utilize all of the land’s raw materials. Companies decided to increase wages which enlarged the amount of overall wealth. Families were now buying new appliances, homes, and vehicles. Many Americans bought these goods on installment programs. This was a pay-as-you-go system. Citizens had newly found wealth and eagerly placed it in the banks.


Banks operated without guarantees to their customers which created a large amount of panic when times began to get tough. On October 24, 1929 a major selling rage began. Most Americans were quickly selling their stocks at a rapid pace. Citizens such as J.P. Morgan pushed their money to go against the wave of panicked Americans. He attempted to buy shares to reverse the trend. This, unfortunately, did not go as planned. On October 29, 1929 the stock market crashed. Almost 16 million shares were traded and millions became worthless. Families that had all of their money in stocks were now left with nothing. President Hoover attempted to lift american spirits, but his words only lasted so long. His popularity dropped along with the staggering number of citizens becoming unemployed. Businesses were forced to lay off workers as unsold items began to pile up. This caused production to slow and companies did not need as many workers. The Great Depression begun due to the masses of unemployment washing over the country.


Middle-class citizens were now over-crowding the soup kitchens. Many scrounged to make the smallest amount of money. People were found selling apples for five cents a piece on the streets. In California. Some even resorted to starting forest fires in attempt to make money by putting them out. It wasn’t until President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected, that the U.S. began its recovery. Almost 17 Million were drafted into war, which calmed the raging unemployment percentages. Money was beginning to slowly return into the lives of Americans and the economy slightly leveled.

John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American author. He wrote 27 books, including five collections of short stories, six nonfiction books, and sixteen novels. He wrote novels such as Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Grapes of Wrath. Novels such as The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men were inspired by the Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath is considered his masterpiece. It sold 14 million copies in the first 75 years it was published. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1962. They call him “a giant of American letters”. Most of his work is set in central and southern California. His work explored the themes of injustice and fate, especially as applied to an everyday, average person as the protagonist.

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