Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

Although John Steinbeck's novellas, Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and The Pearl are works of fiction, they provide a window on the history of the times and places they portray. Studying the historical, social, economic, and regional background of each novella is important to fully understanding each work. This interdisciplinary collection of rich collateral materials features a variety of primary documents that shed light on the background of each of these novellas--the pioneer days and life on the Western frontier, the early history of California, the gold rush, the plight of the migrant worker during the Great Depression, the problems of the homeless and the hopeless, and oppression in Mexico in the early 20th century. Documents include memoirs of mountain men and pioneers, books of travel, sociological studies, a political treatise, a journal, reports of U.S. commissions, a comic memoir, and an interview with a Salvation Army general who worked with the downtrodden during the 1930s. Most of these materials are not available in printed form anywhere else.

Excerpt

The three novellas by John Steinbeck that are the subject of this study have several things in common. All are set in the far western part of the New World far from the influences of the New England and Virginia cultures that shaped the East. Two are set in California and one in Mexico. All three novellas have dramatic structures and have been dramatized on stage or screen. And all are among the most frequently read texts in secondary schools in both Great Britain and America.

Like John Steinbeck's most famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, these three novellas are rich in contextual references to the history of California and Mexico and to issues vital and peculiar to their settings. Consequently, the background against which each is set is important to a full understanding of the work, and these works of fiction are, as well, a window on the history of the times.

Although he incorporated universal themes into his fiction, Steinbeck is considered a regional writer. Most of his novels and short stories take place in the area around Monterey, California, where he grew up, a region culturally distinct from the Midwest, South, and Northeast. It was still frontier and still unknown to English-speaking settlers some two hundred years after the English settled Massachusetts. One major context in which The Red Pony must be placed is the early history of California, for its characters . . .

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