The Great Gatsby attempts to present the American dream. The idea that anybody can be become wealthy, famous, and privileged regardless of their start in life is often seen as a large part of that American dream. While Gatsby does attain wealth and prestige, we see the darker side of this dream as well. He is certainly far from happy and dies without the companionship he so longed for.
The Grapes of Wrath deals with a different time in our nation's history. This novel has a far more obvious dark side because it deals with life during the Great Depression. Here there is little hope for the American dream. People are simply searching for a way to survive and provide for their families. The basic necessities of food and shelter are wanting. These characters are not looking for wealth and fame like Gatsby in the Jazz Age.
Maya Angelou writes from a different perspective than either Fitzgerald or Steinbeck. For starters, she is an African American female. Her poetry often stems from her personal struggles and triumphs in America. Angelou's writing is frequently autobiographical. She also deals with the racial discrimination and inequality in America.