Being a literal artist, Steinbeck was very attentive and aware of the environment around him. He was in touch with the events unfolding at that particular time in the nation. These events provided him with information, insight and ideas about what to write in his novels. In one incidence, that occurred on October 1929, where the U.S. stock market tumbled down and forced the basis for his write-up on the Great Depression (Millichap 18). This period was characterized by economic and financial turmoil where banks and other financial institutions collapsed and businesses closed down in the process. By 1933, approximately a quarter of the whole population was unemployed following the downsizing and closure of businesses in the corporate domain. The environmental catastrophes also took center stage at this period in the history of America.
As from 1930 through to 1936, severe famine strokes the Great Plains of Midwest and rendered it unproductive. These plains used to harbor most expansive farmlands in America but incidence of prolonged drought cleared up all sort of green vegetation on the once fertile, moist, plains. Soon, the whole farmland turned to a clear field characterized by dust storms and the region was known as the Dust Bowl (Dockterman 36). Most people in Oklahoma for instance had to migrate to new areas and leave their homes and farms. Steinbeck was inspired in a special way to capture this phenomenon in literal work so hence the inspiration behind his write-up on Of Mice and Men and the Great Depression (de Papp Carrington 57).
The author spent most part of that year travelling with a section of the migrant workers who had been displaced by the Dust Bowl. Their stories and experiences gave Steinbeck sufficient material to document this historical happening in this novel to be available for the present generation and generations to come of these unfolding right from financial instability and business closure to the natural calamities and drought. The American migrants had gone through hell as they watched their lands wither and die while the top fertile soil blown away to the winds causing terrible pain in all the sectors of the economy (O’Driscoll 26).
In the novella Of Mice and Men published in 1937, he demonstrates the mind of John Steinbeck at the lowest moments in American history. He narrates of the story of George Milton and Lennie Small who were among the displaced migrant ranch workers. Their humiliating experience as they sought for a livelihood moving from place to place gives the readers an emotional experience from the scenario created by the author. His artistic literal skills enabled him develop an emotional scene characteristic of the Great Depression in California, United States. Having had first experience and interact with the victims on the ground gave him more inspiration that propelled his theme of depression at the moment in the history of the state (Stampler 62). He sought to ensure that even those who did not experience or even hear of the incidence get to have a vivid picture of how every event unfolded and the degree of suffering and migrants had to contend with following the events of 1930’s.
Coming from an affluent family and being well educated, Steinbeck had a very good platform to demonstrate of the events of the time (Steinbeck 37). Having travelled and worked in California on the ranches, Steinbeck had clear background information of the livelihood and culture of the people. This was way before the catastrophe and natural calamities came about. He was fully aware of the huge social, financial and economic crisis that the residents faced and how their lives were continuously eroded with the evident introduction of mechanization of farm work. Having such vast knowledge coupled with his great interest in writing provided all the necessary ‘ingredients’ for his masterpiece work on his novella and so he was in the best position
In conclusion, it is evident that Steinbeck was largely inspired by his own experiences as he saw the events unfold one after another. Furthermore, he was a great academician who learned his environment and people around him to come up with exceptional stories and write-ups that captivated his readers. His works remain relevant to this day and age owing to the fact that he was very real in his assertions and knew the art of keeping his readers glued to the stories. Having used characters he met in person gave him an edge to portray the real picture of the situation of the time as they were probably amalgamations of the various people he encountered. In essence, the novel Of Mice and Men is a clear reflection of part of his life of which he would like to share with his generation and the generations to come and in a way appreciate his literal art of writing that works to safely store history in books.