John Steinbeck Outline
I. John Steinbeck used his personal experiences as a laborer to write many of his novels like Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.
II. John Steinbeck’s Life
1. His dad served as the county treasurer.
2. His mom was a school teacher.
3. He was one four children and was the only boy.
B) Childhood and Adolescence
1.Born on February 27, 1902
2.Began telling stories as a child
3. Sent short stories to magazines under a false name
4. He was interested in biology, the study of human life
5. Large guy, advantage because he excelled in track and basketball
6. Wrote for the school paper
7. Was the president of his senior class
C) Young Adult Life
1. Worked his was through college at Stanford University but never graduated
2. He moved to New York and got a job as a free-lance writer but failed, he then
moved back to California.
3. His first book was Cup of Gold but did not attract much attention
4. The novel Tortilla Flat was Steinbeck’s first success.
5. As His reputation as an author began to rise, his personal life took a
Plunge. He got divorced but got remarried but that also ended in divorce
1. Worked on nearby ranches, he became acquainted with a migrant worker
2. Sales clerk, farm laborer, ranch hand, factory worker, construction laborer,
and a caretaker
III. Common settings and Issues
1. The Red Pony- set in Salinas, CA in between two mountains, rural setting, on
2. The Pearl- set in a small fishing village
1. Deals with the economic problems of rural labor
*In Dubious Battle- about striking workers
*Their Blood is Strong- about migrant labor problem
2. Wrote about America’s social problems and the poor.
*The Red Pony- about an impoverished family trying to find a better life
*Of Mice and Men- about the troubles of migrant farmers
IV. Of Mice and Men
A) About the Novel
1. Friendship between two migrant workers
2. Lenny is “simple minded” and a bit slow
3. George is his protector and guides him, he takes care of Lenny
B ) Quotes
1. ” Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.
in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place.”
2. ” O.K. Someday – we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a
Little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—-“
C ) Connection
1. John worked as a laborer during summer vacation as a teenager. He learned
what obstacles they had to work through. He also experienced the hardships as a
2. John met many migrant workers that shared they’re experiences with him.
V. The Grapes of Wrath
A ) Summary
1. Illustrated the hardship and oppression suffered by migrant laborers during
the Great Depression.
2. Its about a family who travels west to find work.
B ) Positive Impact on Society
1. “The Grapes of Wrath had an immediate and explosive effect on the public.”
2. Migrant laborers called him a hero for expressing the real conditions.
3. It was the biggest selling novel since Gone with the Wind
4.Was made into a movie just a year after it was published
* It is still regarded as a classic
5. Brought attention to the problem of migrant farm workers
6. It “was eventually instrumental in bringing about some improvements in their
C ) Negative Impact on Society
1. John was attacked by politicians and citizens for:
*defaming the state
*presenting its people as uncivilized and immoral
2.Politicians called the author “the most dangerous man in America”
3. As soon as the book appeared on library shelves in California, it was ordered
to be removed.
VI. Themes and Messages in his Novels
A ) The Pearl – This novels illustrates ” the fall from innocence of people who
believe that wealth erases all problems.
B ) The Red Pony – the main theme is that life and experience are great teachers.
C ) Of Mice and Men – a dream, no matter how impossible to obtain can force
friendship and give meaning to life.
VII. Facts and Accomplishments
A ) Awards
1. United States Medal of Freedom
2. Nobel Peace Prize – was awarded “for his realistic as well as imaginative
Writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and a keen social perception.”
B ) Stories
1. He spent a lifetime writing books. His stories were made into stage plays and
2. Short stories appealed more to Steinbeck than novels. Most of his novels
started as short stories.
C ) Other
1. John Steinbeck’s trips influenced his writing.
* Travels with Charley – about his 1960 tour with his poodle Charley
2. John was a perfectionist. He was a workaholic but found it exhilarating. He
found safety and security in his writing.