In what ways did Steinbeck's own experience within immigrant families helped him to describe the life of working class?the graps of wrath by JOHN STEINBECK

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas River Valley.  He was a ranchhand himself, and he worked with many migrant workers.  So, he knew the California working class experience first-hand.

He had to do research for the Oklahoma chapters, however.  Much of The Grapes of Wrath began as a series of articles commissioned by The San Francisco News.  Steinbeck visited  "Hoovervilles" and talked with the head of a federal migrant labor camp (Weedpatch Camp), Tom Collins (who became Jim Rawley in the novel).  Together, they traveled across country, gathering research for the series and subsequent book.

Later, in his book Their Blood Is Strong, Steinbeck said:

It is difficult to believe what one large speculative farmer has said, that the success of California agriculture requires that we create and maintain a peon class. For if this is true, then California must depart from the semblance of democratic government that remains here.

mkcapen1 | Student

John Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley among everyday people during a time when food and jobs were scarce.  He knew men who worked hard for an honest days work.  Steinbeck, like so many artists of his day, wrote based on his own experiences and what he knew about the people and the area. 

Steinbeck's family did not have much money and he had to work his way through college.  Nothing came easy for him.  He could relate to the struggle of people who had dreams of getting ahead in life.  He was also a witness to the disadvantageous of being immigrant labor and the prejudices that followed the workers.  He was outspoken and used many of his novels to make social commentaries.

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The Grapes of Wrath

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