Of Mice and Men Historical Context

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During the late 1930s, California was struggling not only with the economic problems of the Great Depression, but also with severe labor strife. Labor conflicts occurred on the docks and packing sheds and fields Steinbeck wrote movingly about the struggles of migrant farm workers in three successive novels In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Agriculture as a working-culture was undergoing an historic change. In 1938, about half the nation's grain was harvested by mechanical combines that enabled five men to do the work that had previously required 350. Only a short time before, thousands of itinerant single men had roamed the western states following the harvests. Their labor had been essential to the success of the large farms. By 1900, about 125,000 migrants travelled along a route from Minnesota west to Washington State.

Many traveled by rail in the empty boxcars...

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This section contains 960 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Of Mice and Men Study Guide
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