John Steinbeck New Historicism Analysis

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A Sacrificial Breastfeeder: John Steinbeck’s New Historicism perspective in the 20th Century John Steinbeck’s most interesting ending is illustrated in the 1939 classic Grapes of Wrath. “She moved slowly into the corner and stood looking down at the wasted face, into the wide, frightened eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her chest” (Steinbeck 455). John Steinbeck is a globally known author who observes the aesthetic of the 1900s which includes the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. These tragic disasters influenced Steinbeck’s style and the content that is located in his novels. The new historicism approach appropriately explores John…show more content…
In 1940, Steinbeck and Ricketts sailed the Sea of Cortez, Mexico in search for sea creatures along the coast. Spending six weeks studying creatures of the deep blue gave Steinbeck a new train of thought. Along the trip Steinbeck recalled, “Our fingers turned over the stones and we saw life that was like our life” (Levy 9). The main idea of transcendentalism is to understand nature so that one can understand himself. When Steinbeck connected his quality of life with the sea creature’s quality of life, a new perspective was opened to him. By understanding nature, he can understand a human’s true and rightful intentions. An important observation made by Sharon Levy is “Steinbeck was saying that we need to see the complex interconnections in nature” (10). By this she means, every person, animal, and plant is connected. There is the aspect of the circle of life and everything is renewed eventually. Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row exemplifies the studies of global warming and coastal pollution along the coast of California. Steinbeck describes the early morning in Cannery Row as “It is the hour of the pearl-the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself” (Cannery 86). This brings out the transcendentalist ideals he is so famous for. The sardine industry was a major factor in not only depleting the coastal animals but created several jobs within,…show more content…
These droughts were mainly caused by the Dust Bowl when no water could counter the amounts of dust whiffing through the air. A drought depletes the food supply which sends families into a frenzy of worry. Many of the agricultural jobs, like the common migrant worker, had no crops to harvest. This lack of food hurt the agricultural industry as much as it hurt the farmers. Gabriel Thompson brought up “The topic turns to drought. It hasn’t rained since--well, since anyone could remember...the grapes haven’t looked good, and the harvest out here, south of Bakersfield, will end several weeks early on account of the heat” (60-61). Steinbeck had similar drought complications as a child. He was born in Salinas Valley, California in 1902 and would have been around thirty years old when the Dust Bowl hit (Gilmore 192). This was during his prime writing stage. The most common occupation during this time was migrant farming. These farmers needed to be mobile and move quickly from state to state in order to retain their position. Presented in the Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family’s experiences exemplify what it was like in the eyes of a migrant worker. Thompson declared “The Joads left home optimistic about the future, fueled in part by the promise on a handbill- GOOD WAGES ALL SEASON- which Pa Joad brings with him” (62). The Grapes of Wrath family chugs along after evicted from their dust
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