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Six hundred dollars was a lot more money in the time of Steinbeck's novel than it is today. Of Mice and Men was published in 1937. That was in the heart of the Great Depression. And real estate prices in California were not skyrocketing, as they did after World War II ended in 1945. Six hundred dollars in the 1930's would have had at least ten times the buying power as it would today, and farm workers like George and Lennie would have had a very hard time accumulating six hundred dollars. You could buy a brand-new bungalow in a good part of Los Angeles for $1500. Typically it would have two bedrooms, one bath, a living room with a dining area, a full kitchen and a one-car garage (few people owned more than one car in those days). I know of a house like that in Sacramento that sold for $440,000 about ten years ago.
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