Of Mice and Men

Historical Events and Concepts - Sarah Williams

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was a tragic time in American that started in 1929 and lasted for 10 long years. There were four waves of panic that washed over America. It began when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. Millions of investors were wiped out, Wall Street went into panic, stock prices raised, consumer spending declined, and unsold goods were piling up. Levels of unemployment skyrocketed, which included construction workers being fired. The nation's industrial production dropped 50%, half of the nation's banks failed, and there were between 13 and 15 million people in the U.S. that were unemployed. For the minority who were able to keep their jobs, wages fell and buying power increased.

Starvation also struck hard during the Great Depression. About 7 million died of starvation due to not having the money to buy food for their families or themselves. Farmers who could not afford to tend crops were forced to leave them to rot, and all white people elsewhere suffered form starvation. But, in 1933, President Herbert Hoover created an administration in attempt to support failing banks and other institutions with government loans. A few years later, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took over the presidency, he put relief and reform measures in place. He created "Bank Holiday" where banks are closed for four days so Congress could pass reform legislation. Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system by creating Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The economy would not fully bounce back and recover until after World War II in 1939.

Big image

Sources on the Great Depression

The American Dream

An American Dream is described as the national ethos of the United States and a set of ideals or goals. In 1931, author James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase “American Dream” in his book Epic of America. Also, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. rooted the Civil Rights Movement in the black quest for the American Dream in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. This concept is popular in American literature, especially during the 20th century. The ethos today implies an opportunity for Americans to achieve prosperity through hard work. To get their point across, many authors also incorporated “American Ideal” into their writing.

The American Dream is given credit for helping to build a cohesive American experience. But, the concept has also been blamed for inflated expectations. Some authors were blamed for ridiculing materialism of the concept in their literature and writing. The concept also promoted the opportunity for one's children to grow up and receive a good education and career without artificial barriers. In a 2013 poll, 41% of people said it was impossible for Americans to achieve the American dream, whereas 38% said it was still possible.

Big image

Sources on The American Dream

John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was an American author who wrote 27 books, which consisted of sixteen novels, including Of Men and Mice, six nonfiction books, and five short story collections. He was born on February 27th, 1902 in Salinas, California, and died on December 20th, 1968 in New York City at age 66 of congestive heart failure. Steinbeck studied English Literature at Stanford University after graduating from Salinas High School. After 6 years of going to school, he moved to New York City in 1925 to become a writer, but then returns to California the next year and settles in Lake Tahoe to work as a handyman at a local resort. In 1929, he published his first book, Cup of Gold. He marries his first wife, Carol Henning, in 1930. They live in California in his father’s cabin, which is where he completes most of his life work. On February 6th of 1937, Steinfeld publishes his 4th piece, Of Mice and Men. Shockingly, critics did not appreciate Steinfeld’s work, for they felt he was a threat.

In 1962, John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, along with four other awards for his writing. On March 29th, 1943, he married Gwndolyn Conger. They proceeded to have two children - two boys, named Thomas and John IV. They were divorced in 1948 after he travels through Russia. He married Elaine Anderson Scott after the divorce two years later in 1950. Steinbeck feels his best work was shown in his book East of Eden. After Steinbeck dies in 1968, his ashes are interred in his hometown of Salinas.

Big image

Sources on John Steinbeck