Lead: In 1939 John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath, perhaps the major American novel of the Great Depression. Its publication, however, was not without controversy.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, a rural community 100 miles south of San Francisco. As a child he observed the hard life of itinerant and migrant farm workers and his boyhood home became the setting of much of his work. Beginning in 1935 with Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle, and Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck proved himself an acute observer of social conflict and pain. Yet it was with The Grapes of Wrath that he reached the pinnacle of his literary craft. Much of the material in the novel came from a series of investigative articles the author wrote for the San Francisco News on the plight of the “Oakies,” emigrants from the mid-west dust bowl – Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas. In The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck wove an elegant, semi-documentary narrative telling the story of the Joads, a 1930s Depression era farm family from Oklahoma. Seeking a better life, they had migrated to California only to find themselves caught in the same cycle of poverty and hopelessness they had left behind. The struggles and hardships of the working poor it seemed are rarely relieved by a change in geography.

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