Of Mice and Men Research

By: Gwyneth Steele

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was an economic depression that took place worldwide during the 1930s and for many countries, lasted until World War II began. During this time, the measure of economic activity throughout the world, or worldwide GDP, dropped 15%. Across the world, unemployment rates reached as high 33%, affecting both the wealthy and the poor. In 1933, as much as 13 to 15 million Americans were left unemployed and many American banks failed. This crisis began shortly after October 29th, 1929, which was known as Black Tuesday, when the United States' market prices suddenly collapsed, panicking the citizens of Wall Street. Over the next few years after the United States' economy plummeted, unemployment rates began to raise and the amount of spending and investment dropped.

President Herbert Hoover reassured that the crisis will run its course and eventually pass over, but the issues only got worse over the next several years. By 1931, about six million Americans were unable to find jobs and by 1933, thousands of banks had shut down. Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933 and calmed the panic by stating that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Roosevelt passed laws to improve agricultural and industrial production and to provide careers for the unemployed. He also created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to stabilize the damaged financial systems and to prevent the crisis of October 1929 from reoccurring. Throughout the 1930s, the light soil, strong winds, and severe droughts that covered the Great Plains caused dust storms to form. These severe storms form in the Dust Bowl and are caused by severe weather and poor treatment of the land. The Dust Bowl was another factor that severely damaged the agriculture and economy of the United States during the time of the Great Depression.

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The Great Depression: Crash Course US History #33

The American Dream

The American Dream is the beliefs and goals of the United States which are to use freedom to become successful and to provide opportunity for everyone. During the James Truslow Adams wrote the definition of the American Dream in his book, The Epic of America, which states " that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement". James Adams also writes that each man and women should be able to achieve what they are capable of achieving and "be recognized for what they are, regardless of fortuitous circumstances of birth or position". This means that everybody should be recognized for their achievements regardless to age, amount of wealth, gender, or social status. The American Dream demonstrates the United States' morals of equality, Independence, and Liberty.

The American Dream is also written in the Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal" and that they have certain "inalienable" rights including "freedom, liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness". This dream is that by working hard you will achieve greater, but many don't believe this is possible for the poor who must work multiple jobs to ensure their families' survival. Another aspect to the American Dream is to own land and to have a place to live or to call "home". Many people have different beliefs on what the American Dream is, but the general idea of the American Dream today is that Americans work hard to gain prosperity.

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John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck is an American author who wrote several books, the most well known being The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men. John Steinbeck wrote the books In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath during the Great Depression on the labor issues in California at the time. In Of Mice and Men, which was set during the time of the Great Depression and written during this time, two migrant workers who wanted to achieve the American dream. The men had "the desire for the land, roots, and a place to call home". Steinbeck wrote about and described what it means to be human and the loneliness, the dreams, and the uncertainty of what the future may bring that many people experience. Steinbeck understood that without dreams our lives are just one day after another with no real purpose.

In the book The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck looks at the industrialization of agriculture and how it effects the farm workers who lose their jobs and how society seems to ignore these effects. Steinbeck highlighted the lack of justice involving social status in his books and gave people a voice who normally were not heard. Steinbeck demonstrates how we see identity through ownership in the novel, East of Eden. The American Dream to own land. The book also looks at good and evil and how we as humans can choose our own moral path. Steinbeck asks us a question when looking back on our life of how well we did with our choices and the treatment we give to others. Many of Steinbeck's books were written about characters who are at risk due to their identity as a result to the conflict between cultures at the time. Many of Steinbeck's characters are unable to escape certain influences such as religious and cultural influences or the influences of war and migration.

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