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The One, The Only…. John Steinbeck. By: Caroline Larkin Mod 7/8. Thesis. How did John Steinbeck’s personal experiences and where he grew up affect his writing?

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the one the only john steinbeck

The One, The Only….John Steinbeck

By: Caroline Larkin

Mod 7/8

  • How did John Steinbeck’s personal experiences and where he grew up affect his writing?
  • He grew up in Salinus Valley, California and all of his books are set in California. He also worked as a hired hand on ranches as he was growing up and one of the books I read, Of Mice and Men’s main characters were hired hands looking for a new farm to work as hired hands on.
so who is john steinbeck anyway
So, Who Is John Steinbeck Anyway?!?!

John Steinbeck was an author from Salinus, California. Over his lifetime, he wrote 27 novels, three collections of short stories , and many essays and he received 17 total awards and honors before his death …. WOW! Steinbeck’s writing gave a voice to the voiceless lives that were often presumed meaningless.

did you know
Did You Know…..?
  • Many of John Steinbeck’s books were banned for many years due to the fact that people believed many of his books to involve communist ideas
  • Many of Steinbeck’s books were made into movies
  • His first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929.
random facts about steinbeck
Random Facts About Steinbeck
  • John Steinbeck shied away from publicity, and the criticism annoyed him.
  • He had a habit of signing his writings with a tiny drawing of a winged pig and the Latin words ad astra per alia porci, which means “to the stars on the wings of a pig”. This was meant to remind people that you should always strive for higher ground, no matter how lowly you may seem.
  • He was born on February 27, 1902.
  • His full name is John Ernst Steinbeck the third and his son is the fourth.
  • His best friend was a marine biologist, Ed Ricketts, and they wrote a non-fiction book together, The Sea of Cortez, after a six month trip to Mexico
  • He hated being famous and tried to stay out of the public eye as much as possible.
before he was famous
Before He Was Famous…..
  • He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919.
  • He went to Stanford University for a few years, but never graduated college because all he really wanted to do was write.
  • In 1925, he left California for New York to pursue a writing career, but returned home, unsuccessful.
  • As a teenager, he worked on local ranges as a hired hand
john s home life
John’s Home Life….
  • He married three times and has two children, both were sons.
  • He had two sisters, one older and one younger.
  • Even though many people believe he was a lifelong Californian, he actually spent a lot of his life and shed most of his ties to the Salinus Valley.
after his death
After His Death
  • John Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968 at age 66 from heart disease and congestive heart failure.
  • He got his own museum in his home town of Salinus, California, the National Steinbeck Center.
  • You can visit his house, which has been made into a tourist attraction, also in Salinus.
the great depression
The Great Depression
  • Steinbeck lived through the Great Depression, which was a great economic crash in the U.S. that left many people without homes and jobs.
  • Causes of the Great Depression are debated, but include a weak banking system, overproduction, the government, etc.
  • People who lost their homes lived in what were called “Hoovervilles” or shanty towns named after President Herbert Hoover (many other things were named after him, too)
cannery row
Cannery Row

One of the novels I chose to read was Cannery Row. Cannery Row is a sardine cannery in Monterey, California and many people lived and worked here in Steinbeck’s time. Cannery Row follows the life of different people and workers in Cannery Row- from the grocery store owner, Lee Chong, Mack and the Boys who live in a fish rack on the edge of town and are un-employed boys, Henry the painter, Dora Flood and the girls who live in her bar/house, and Doc, a young marine biologist. This novel follows their daily lives and hardships. Cannery Row is an area of people who don’t have a lot of money or who chose not to live in the area where people have a lot of money.

cannery row continued
Cannery Row (continued)

This book doesn’t really follow the Hero’s Journey structure- there isn’t much of a main plot, it’s mostly just different people’s lives and feelings, each individual person has their own climax and resolution, etc. However, the novel mostly focuses on Mack and the boys. They wanted to do something for Doc, who is a friend and caretaker to all. So, they try to throw him a party! They go to Doc’s lab/house to set up for the party one night when he was out collecting sea animals to sell. But, he stays out late and comes home to a trashed house. What happens then? Well, I guess you’ll just have to read and find out!

cannery row1
Cannery row

This is present day Cannery Row

  • So, Based on the novels I read and what I’ve learned about Steinbeck, I can infer that his life experiences, such as living in Monterey and being a ranch’s hired hand growing up affected his writing. Also, since most of his novels centered around the Depression-era characters, I can infer that his time period affected his writing as well.