How did major literary figures react to the social problems caused as a result of the Great Depression?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that writers of the time period really felt impacted by the vast amount of human suffering around them.  John Steinbeck, for example, is a writer who delved greatly into how people suffer due to material want and the level to which this impacted their emotional state of being was a theme explored in works such as Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, amongst others.  It was interesting to gauge the reaction of African- American writers of the time period.  These thinkers understood that everyone was suffering.  Yet, there was a feeling that people of color have had to endure such reality for some time.  The denial of opportunity, the need to take what was given for nothing else would be provided, and the overall feeling of despair that was embedded within consciousness were realities that America had experienced during the Great Depression.  Yet, this had been daily life for Americans of color, most notably African- Americans.  Such a collection of feeling can be seen in some of Hughes' poems such as "Waitin' On Roosevelt" and "Gonna Miss President Roosevelt."  I think in both writers such as Steinbeck and Hughes, one can see how the Great Depression impacted material reality, but also the internal subjective and how it perceived self and society.

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