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The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

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Could The Grapes of Wrath be considered nonfiction?

Quick answer:

This novel is fiction.

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This novel is fiction. Many critics will call it historical fiction or realism. During the migration to California, Steinbeck did spend time in the migrant camps speaking to those who have traveled from places like Oklahoma to California in search of work. He learned first hand about the lives of these individuals. Even though the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression did happen, the story surrounding these historical events is fictional. Because Steinbeck took the time to actually learn and document actual characteristics of migrants, it enriches the story to make it seem real. That is the essence of a good writer.

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No, to be non-fiction the novel would have to be a true story. While the story is very realistic and is based on an actual historical period and the types of events that occurred during that period, and could be, therefore, classified as realism, realisitic fiction, historical fiction, or even social commentary, it is definitely not an accounting of actual events or an actual family. So, it cannot be considered nonfiction.

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