John Steinbeck: Experiencing the Dust Bowl Essay

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The 1930's were a decade of great change politically, economically, and socially. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl wore raw the nerves of the people, and our true strength was shown. From it arose John Steinbeck, a storyteller of the Okies and their hardships. His books, especially The Grapes of Wrath, are reflections of what really went on in the 1930's. John Steinbeck did not write about what he had previously read, he instead wrote what he experienced through his travels with the migrant workers. "His method was not to present himself notebook in hand and interview people. Instead he worked and traveled with the migrants as one of them, living as they did and arousing no suspicion from employers militantly alert against …show more content…
Here is an excerpt from Steinbeck's personal journal when he was in Visalia in the winter of 1938:
I must go over into the interior valleys. There are about five thousand families starving to death over there, not just hungry but actually starving. The government is trying to feed them and get medical attention to them with the fascist group of utilities and banks and huge growers sabotaging the thing all along the line… In one tent there are twenty people quarantined for smallpox and two of the women are to have babies in that tent this week. I've tied into the thing from the first and I must get down there and see it and see if I can't do something to help knock these murderers on the heads… They think that if these people are allowed to live in camps with proper facilities, they will organize and that is the bugbear of the large landowner and the corporation farmer. The states and counties will give them nothing because they are outsiders. But the crops of any part of this state could not be harvested without these outsiders. I'm pretty mad about it (E. Steinbeck and Wallsten 158). Steinbeck's experiences in Visalia led to his creation of the torrential rains at the end of "Grapes of Wrath" and also led to his dramatic ending to the main character Tom Joad in the novel (DeMott xxxvi). These experiences also lead to his classic lines talking about the migrant's grapes of wrath,