The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Describe the hopelessness of the Great Depression.

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The name is a tip off: the Great Depression was a time when it seemed like there was nothing people could do to improve their conditions. No one really understood what had gone wrong with the economy or how to fix it. Men who had been making millions on the stock market were selling apples on the sidewalk—or were being scraped up off of it, since they'd committed suicide. It was a body blow to the nation's spirit, because it seemed like no matter how hard people worked, they couldn't get ahead. People lost homes, farms, etc.; people who had studied for advanced degrees were doing manual labor and were glad to have it, because at least it meant they didn't starve.

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