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Steinbeck always used simple, unpretentious prose suitable to his subject matter, the lives of the working poor, and suitable to his readership, the ordinary American men and women who would understand and sympathize with the kind of people he was writing about. Here is an example of Steinbeck's functional prose:
The bunkhouse was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted.
His prose is reminiscent of many important American writers, including Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Hamlin Garland, Wallace Stegner, Dashiell Hammett, and Ernest Hemingway.
Steinbeck was noted for his excellent dialogue, which is the best feature of his novel The Grapes of Wrath. Here is an example of dialogue from Of Mice and Men:
"That's the kindaguy he was--clean. Used ta dress up Sundays even when he wasn't going no place, put on a necktie even, and then set in the bunkhouse."
The reader can visualize the speaker (in this case Candy) from the way he talks. Steinbeck's men and women characterize themselves while characterizing the men and women they are talking about. The monologue of Curley's wife in the barn just before Lennie accidentally kills her paints an elaborate picture of the lonely, ignorant country girl yearning for romance and adventure and the kind of life she actually leads.
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