The Great Depression In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

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During the early 1920s, America experienced a period of intense economic growth. This massive growth, however, was followed by the worst economic recession in the history of the United States. Due to an imbalance in societal wealth, worldwide interdependent economies, stock market crashes, and several other economic disproportions, the Great Depression took a harsh toll on America. Unemployment rates reached a record high, leaving thousands of Americans out of work and unable to provide for their families. Emotions stemming from these struggles were reflected in literature from the time, particularly in author John Steinbeck 's novel, The Grapes of Wrath. In his book, Steinbeck articulates the frustration which lower class citizens felt concerning the imbalance of wealth in America, while simultaneously expressing their…show more content…
"You jus ' goin ' wes '?"
"Jus ' on our way."
"You ain 't never been in California?"
"No, we ain 't."
"Well, don ' take my word. Go see for yourself."
"Yeah," Tom said, "but a fella kind a likes to know what he 's gettin ' into." (220-221)

Here, no matter the answer he received, Tom, a family member moving west, was determined to go California in search of work. This attitude suggests optimism among American citizens throughout the Great Depression, as they were hopeful of finding work to improve their lives. Steinbeck goes on to express optimism even after Tom hears of the selfishness of Californians. This positivity is seen when he writes, "Tom looked down into the water, and he dug his heels into the sand. 'S 'pose a fella got work an ' saved, couldn ' he get a little lan '? '" (221). Here, despite hearing of the selfish lifestyles of the wealthy, Tom is still hopeful that he could improve his future by moving out west. This optimism and hope for the American economy was widespread throughout the Great Depression and can be noted in multiple works of literature from the period, as it is in Steinbeck 's
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