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In Dubious Battle

Main article: In Dubious Battle

In 1936 Steinbeck published the first of what came to be known as his Dustbowl trilogy, which included Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. This first novel tells the story of a fruit pickers' strike in California which is both aided and damaged by the help of "the Party," generally taken to be the Communist Party, although this is never spelled out in the book.

Of Mice and Men

Main article: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is a tragedy that was written in the form of a play in 1937. The story is about two traveling ranch workers, George and Lennie, trying to work up enough money to buy their own farm/ranch. As it is set in 1930's America, it provides an insight into The Great Depression, encompassing themes of racism, loneliness, prejudice against the mentally ill, and the struggle for personal independence. Along with Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and The Pearl, Of Mice and Men is one of Steinbeck's best known works. It was made into a movie three times, in 1939 starring Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney Jr., and Betty Field, in 1982 starring Randy Quaid, Robert Blake and Ted Neeley, and in 1992 starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.

The Grapes of Wrath

Main article: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is set in the Great Depression and describes a family of sharecroppers, the Joads, who were driven from their land due to the dust storms of the Dust Bowl. The title is a reference to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Some critics found it too sympathetic to the workers' plight and too critical of capitalism but it found quite a large audience in the working class.[citation needed] It won both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction (novels) and was adapted as a film starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford.

East of Eden

Main article: East of Eden (novel)

Steinbeck deals with the nature of good and evil in this Salinas Valley saga. The story follows two families: the Hamiltons – based on Steinbeck's own maternal ancestry – and the Trasks, reprising stories about the Biblical Adam and his progeny. The book was published in 1952. It was made into a movie in 1955 directed by Elia Kazan starring James Dean.

Travels with Charley

Main article: Travels with Charley: In Search of America

In 1960, Steinbeck bought a pickup truck and had it modified with a custom-built camper top – which was rare at the time – and drove across the United States with his faithful 'blue' standard poodle, Charley. Steinbeck nicknamed his truck Rocinante after Don Quixote's "noble steed". In this sometimes comical, sometimes melancholic book, Steinbeck describes what he sees from Maine to Montana to California, and from there to Texas and Louisiana and back to his home on Long Island. The restored camper truck is on exhibit in the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

Two migrant field workers in California on their plantation during the Great Depression—George Milton, an intelligent yet cynical man, and Lennie Small, a man of large stature and great strength but limited mental abilities—are on their way to another part of California. They hope to one day attain their shared dream of settling down on their own piece of land. Lennie's part of the dream is merely to tend to (and touch) soft rabbits on the farm. This dream is one of Lennie's favorite stories, which George constantly retells. They are fleeing from their previous employment in Weed, California, where they were run out of town after Lennie's love of stroking soft things resulted in an accusation of attempted rape when he touched a young woman's dress, and would not let go. It soon becomes clear that the two are close friends and George is Lennie's protector.

At the ranch, the situation appears to be menacing and dangerous, especially when the pair are confronted by Curley—the boss's small-statured aggressive son with an inferiority complex who dislikes larger men—leaving the gentle giant Lennie potentially vulnerable. Curley's flirtatious and provocative wife, to whom Lennie is instantly attracted, poses a problem as well. In sharp contrast to these two characters, the pair also meets Slim, the kind, intelligent and intuitive jerkline skinner whose dog has recently had a litter of puppies. Slim gives a puppy to Lennie and another to an old ranch hand named Candy.

In spite of the potential problems on the ranch, their dream leaps towards reality when Candy, the aged, one-handed ranch hand, offers to pitch in with George and Lennie so that they can buy a farm at the end of the month in return for permission to live with them on it. The trio are ecstatic, but their joy is overshadowed when Curley attacks Lennie. He then, urged on by George, catches Curley's fist and crushes it, reminding the group there are still obstacles to overcome before their goal is reached.

Nevertheless, George feels more relaxed, since the dream seems just within their grasp, to the extent that he even leaves Lennie behind on the ranch while he goes into town with the other ranch hands. Lennie wanders into the stable, and chats with Crooks, the bitter, yet educated stable buck, who is isolated from the other workers because he is black. Candy finds them and they discuss their plans for the farm with Crooks, who cannot resist asking them if he can hoe a garden patch on the farm, despite scorning the possibility of achieving the dream. Curley's wife makes another appearance and flirts with the men, especially Lennie. However, her spiteful side is shown when she belittles them and is especially harsh towards Crooks because of his race, threatening to have him lynched.

Lennie accidentally kills his puppy while stroking it. Curley's wife enters the barn and tries to speak to Lennie, admitting that she is lonely, how her dreams of becoming a movie star crashed, revealing the reason she flirts with the ranch hands. After finding out that Lennie loves stroking soft things, she offers to let him stroke her hair, but panics and begins to scream when she feels his strength. Lennie becomes frightened, and in the scuffle, unintentionally breaks her neck. When the other ranch hands find the body, George unhappily realizes that their dream is at an end. George hurries away to find Lennie, hoping he will be at the meeting place they designated at the start of the novel in case Lennie got into trouble, knowing that there is only one thing he can do to save Lennie from the painful death that Curley's lynch mob intends to deliver.

George meets Lennie at the designated place, the same spot they camped in the night before they came to the ranch. The two sit together and George retells the beloved story of the bright future together that they will never share. He then shoots Lennie in the back of the head, so that his death will be painless and happy. Curley, Slim, and Carlson find George seconds after the shooting. Only Slim realizes that Georg

49. All the King's Men is a novel by Robert Penn Warren first published in 1946. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. In 1947 Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for All the King's Men.

It was adapted for film in 1949 and 2006; the 1949 version won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

It is rated the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library,[1] and it was chosen as one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels since 1923.[2]

All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s. The novel is narrated by Jack Burden, a political reporter who comes to work as Governor Stark's right-hand man. The trajectory of Stark's career is interwoven with Jack Burden's life story and philosophical reflections: "the story of Willie Stark and the story of Jack Burden are, in one sense, one story."[3]

The novel evolved from a verse play that Warren began writing in 1936 entitled Proud Flesh. One of the characters in Proud Flesh was named Willie Talos, in reference to the brutal character Talus in Edmund Spenser's late 16th century work The Faerie Queene.[4]

The version of All the King's Men edited by Noel Polk (ISBN 0-15-100610-5) uses the name "Willie Talos" for the Boss as originally written in Warren's manuscript, and is known as the "restored version" for using this name as well as printing several passages removed from the original edit.

Warren claimed that All the King's Men was "never intended to be a book about politics."[5]

One central motif of the novel is that all actions have consequences, and that it is impossible for an individual to stand aloof and be a mere observer of life, as Jack tries to do (first as a graduate student doing historical research and later as a wisecracking newspaperman). In the atmosphere of the 1930s, whole populations seemed to abandon responsibility by living vicariously through messianic political figures like Willie Stark. Thus, Stark fulfills the wishes of many of the characters, or seems to do so. For instance, his faithful bodyguard Sugar-Boy, who stutters, loves Stark because "the b-boss could t-talk so good"; Jack Burden cannot bring himself to sleep with Anne Stanton, whom he loves, but Stark does so; and so on. (It is in this sense that the characters are "all the king's men"; other than borrowing this familiar phrase, the title has nothing to do with the story of Humpty Dumpty.) But this vicarious achievement will eventually fail; ultimately Jack realizes that one must "go out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time."

The novel explores conceptions of Calvinist theology, such as original sin ("Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption, and he passeth from the stink of the dydie to the stench of the shroud," says Willie when told that no adverse information about an opponent would be likely to be found. "There's always something"); and total depravity ("You got to make good out of bad," says Willie when his ruthless methods are criticized. "That's all there is to make it with.") Jack discovers that no man is invulnerable to sin under the right circumstances, and thus his search for dirt on the judge begins with a questions as to what circumstances would cause one to do wrong. Jack, Willie, and Adam all abandon idealism when they realize that nobody is pure and unblemished.

Another motif in the novel is the "Great Twitch." When Jack Burden unexpectedly discovers that the love of his life, Anne Stanton, has been sleeping with Governor Willie Stark, he impulsively jumps in his car and drives to California to obtain some distance from the situation. Jack's description of his trip contains overt and indirect references to the notion of Manifest Destiny, which becomes somewhat ironic when he comes back from it believing in the "Great Twitch."

The "Great Twitch" is a particular brand of nihilism that Jack embraces during this journey westward: "all the words we speak meant nothing and there was only the pulse in the blood and the twitch of the nerve, like a dead frog's leg in the experiment when the electric current goes through."[10] On his way back from California, Jack gives a ride to an old man who has an involuntary facial twitch. This image becomes for him the encapsulating metaphor for the idea that "all life is but the dark heave of blood and the twitch of the nerve."[11] In other words, life is without meaning; everything is motivated by some inborn reflex action and nobody is responsible for their choices or even their own destiny. (The concept is brought to life for Jack when he witnesses a lobotomy performed by Adam Stanton.) The emotional distance permitted by this revelation releases Jack from his own frustration stemming from the relationship between Anne Stanton and his boss, and allows him to return to circumstances which were previously unbearable.

Subsequent events (including the tragic deaths of Governor Stark, his lifelong friend Adam Stanton, and Judge Irwin, Jack's father) convince Jack that the revelation of the "Great Twitch" is an insufficient paradigm to explain what he has seen of history. "[H]e saw that though doomed [his friends] had nothing to do with any doom under the godhead of the Great Twitch. They were doomed, but they lived in the agony of will."[8] Ultimately, he grows to accept some responsibility for his part in the destruction of his friends' lives.

The book also touches on Oedipal themes, as Jack discovers his father's true identity after having caused his death.

The theme of one's father's identity and its effects on one's own sense of identity is explored twice in the novel, first through Adam and Anne's painful discovery that their father (the late Governor Stanton) once assisted in the cover-up of a bribery scandal. Then Jack discovers that his biological father is Judge Irwin, not, as he previously believed, "the Scholarly Attorney." In each case, the discovery catalyzes an upheaval in the character's moral outlook.

Time is another of the novel's thematic fascinations. The idea that every moment in the past contains the seeds of the future is constantly explored through the novel's non-chronological narrative, which reveals character continuities and thematic connections across different time periods.

50.

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