Steinbeck describes the inhabitants of the valley—Indians, Spanish, Americans—in rather unattractive terms, as if he's echoing an "official" history in East of Eden. Why would he do so?

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As they open the novel with their personal recollections of the Salinas River Valley, the narrator (whose gender is initially unspecified) comments that the river “was not a fine river at all” but was all they had, so they boasted about it. While they mention a few people, such as their grandfather, most of the chapter consists of description of the landscape and mentions of the...

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