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Slouching Toward Bethlehem Setting & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Slouching Toward Bethlehem.
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The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder is a movie starring John Wayne. It was the filming of this movie that Joan Didion writes about in her essay, "John Wayne: A Love Song."

C.P.U.S.A (M.-L.)

C.P.U.S.A (M.-L.) stands for the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist). One of Didion's essays was about the General Secretary of this group.


Didion kept notes in notebooks since she was five, though she often was not sure to what the notes referred. Didion wrote several essays about this habit.

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

"Slouching Toward Bethlehem" is a line from a Yeats' poem that Didion chose as the title of one of her essays, and the name of the book, because the imagery of the poem haunted Didion for a long time prior to the publication of the book.

San Bernardino

San Bernardino is a city an hour east of Los Angeles that was original settled by the Mormons. San Bernardino was where Lucille Miller lived and where her husband died.

Carmel Valley

Joan Baez had a school in the Carmel Valley and the residence near her school attempted to force her to move the school. It was during this time that Joan Didion wrote her essay about Joan Baez, called "Where the Kissing Never Stops."

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a city in Nevada where people can be married without a waiting period, often in the middle of the night. Didion's essay, "Marrying Absurd," is about this strange phenomenon.


Didion discusses Hollywood as a place that has lost its original voice.


Didion grew up in a Sacramento with a strong history and deep sense of family. Didion wrote an essay expressing the sense that this Sacramento no longer exists to the children growing up there now.

New York

Didion moved to New York City as a young woman and found it to be very adventurous. However, when Didion became older, she grew homesick for the West Coast.

Pearl Harbor

One of the essays details two visits to Pearl Harbor in order to see how other people reacted to the memorials there. However, Didion found she could not pay attention to other's reactions when she herself was in tears.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a large city in Southern California where many of Hollywood's elite live. This was where Joan Didion made her home when she penned the essays.

(read more from the Objects/Places section)

This section contains 375 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Slouching Toward Bethlehem Study Guide
Slouching Toward Bethlehem from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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