John Steinbeck was an Americanauthor, known for his stories such as “Of Mice and Men”, “East of Eden “and theaward winning “The Grapes of Wrath”. He was awarded many prizes for his work,the most outstanding one being the Nobel Prize in literature. His work can be labelledas “Worship of the soil” and political because of his emphasis of both natureand social critique. He was born in California,Salinas on the 27th of February 1902, to a wealthy family. John Steinbeckdespite being depicted as shy, had a happy childhood, living with his parentsand siblings.
As he aged he grew to love nature, leading to him to useCalifornia’s Salinas Valley as the main backdrop ofhis later stories. He wanted to become a writer as early as 14, would spend histime practicing writing stories. This could have been due to his exposure ofhis parent’s love of literature, who would print books in the cellar.Steinbeck’s mother Olive Hamilton Steinbeck worked as a school teacher, she wasdescribed as a tough and caring woman who originated from Irish decent. Hisfather John Ernest Steinbeck senior owned a feed-and-grain store and worked asa treasurer of the Monterey County. As Steinbeck finished schoolhe went to Stanford University in 1919, a decision taken to please his parents.His ambitions in starting a carrier as a writer caused him to repeatedly jumpin and out of college, only attending classed that he thought will improve hisabilities as a writer.
This pattern continued until dropping out of college in1925 without a degree, where he resorted to work manual labour, the stories heheard from that time would serve as an inspiration for his writings. Steinbeckused his saved-up money to move to New York and worked both as a failedconstruction worker and a newspaper reporter, but eventually moved back toCalifornia and took a job as a caretaker in Lake Tahoe. It was here he wrotehis first novel “Cup of Gold” (1929) and married a woman named Carol Henning,who was essential in supporting Steinbeck’s carrier as an author. After “Cup of Gold” he wrote”The pastures of Heaven” (1932) and “To God Unknown” (1933), But it wasn’tbefore publishing “Tortilla Flat” (1935) when Steinbeck started to gain publicattention, it was a compilation of comedic stories about pasisano life in theMonterey region. It was based on the stories he heard from Mexican workers whenhe worked as a manual labourer. Afterthe success of “Tortilla Flat”, Steinbeck would shift to a more serious tone.He found himself writing novels that conveyed Social criticism like “DubiousBattle” (1936), which is about a series of protests by migrant workers againstthe plantations in California. This was closely followed by the novella “OfMice and Men” (1937) and told a story of two bindle stiffs Lennie and Georgelooking for work in California.
Although these books where successful and onebeing adapted into a movie, their critical acclaim couldn’t compare to JohnSteinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939), a book that won Steinbeck a Pulitzerprize in 1940. The book took place in the period of the great depression andcaptured the mood and angst of the nation in that time. It was about a familymigrating to California from the Oklahoma Dust bowl. “The Grapes of Wrath” atthe height of its popularity, The Grapes of Wrath sold 10,000 copies per week. Steinbeck’s writing style isprecise and colourful, giving the reader a lot of attention to detail in hisstories, either it being to capture the readers imagination or to createforeshadowing.
He was also great at making the reader sympathize with hischaracters and make the reader feel conflicted. In the novella Of Mice and Men wefind ourselves sympathizing with Lennie even though he accidentally killed oneof the characters. We knew that Lennie was mentally challenged and never wantedto harm anyone therefore we looked past his mistakes to root for him, and feelsaddened when he died in the end. His stories came with a narrative or amessage, like his social critique in Grapes of Wrath where people in the beliefthat owning land was the only way to escape poverty instead of sharing would inconsequence result in missed out benefits and suffering of others. As earliermentioned Steinbeck would often use California and Salinas Valley as the stageof his stories, being where he spent his childhood would have a profound effecton him. It is there he would gain an appreciation for nature and as a resultwould spend a lot of details on nature in his stories, giving the reader a richenvironment.
Therefore, can we label his stories as “worship of the soil”.Later in his life, Steinbeckwould continue to write. his works can be listed as the following “Cannery Row”(1945), “Burning Bright” (1950), “East of Eden”(1952), “The Winter of OurDiscontent” (1962) and “Travels with Charley: In Search of America” (1962).Steinbeck would work for the New York Tribune as a war correspondent duringworld war II and join a journey to Mexico to document marine life with hisfriend Edward F. rickets.
For Steinbeck’s efforts he was awarded the nobleprize in literature, but was faced with tremendous amount of criticism. It saidthat Steinbeck was deeply affected by the backlash, it was recorded when beingasked if he deserved the prize he replied with no. Steinbeck even when shunnedby his home town and critics in his time is now recognized as a great authorand an icon in America and Europe alike. Either because of his imaginative storytellingor worldbuilding.