John Steinbeck

Topics: John Steinbeck, Salinas, California, Ed Ricketts Pages: 6 (2285 words) Published: March 30, 2008
“I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.” (George 1) This is a quote by John Steinbeck that shows exactly how he felt about being a writer. Steinbeck, a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, is a very popular author in the United States of America, even after his death. He is known for his very realistic portrayals of the working class society, especially in his beloved Salinas, California. He was also a prominent spokesman for the victims of the Great Depression. Most importantly, Steinbeck understood that readers wanted to know the truth in the world. The truth that he would write about, he found much of in his early life. John Ernst Steinbeck was born February 27, 1902 of German and Irish heritage. His parents were John and Olive Steinbeck. Steinbeck's father was a quiet, disappointed man who had failed at managing a mill and failed, again, at running his own feed store. Perhaps as a reaction to this, Steinbeck's mother, a former school teacher, was filled with ambition for her son. She hoped he would be a doctor or lawyer. She was very important to John, as well as to American literature, because she is why he became interested in literature. (Bloom 19) It was his one of his greatest disappointments that neither parent of his lived to see him achieve his huge success as a writer. He had a very typical childhood for a boy that lived in Salinas in the early twentieth century. He had two older sisters, Esther and Beth, who adored him to death. He also had a third sister, Mary, who was three years younger than him. He and Mary shared a pony which stayed in a stable just a couple of blocks away from their house. (Bloom 21) His parents were involved in the local community. Even after his father's lack of success in business, local townspeople came to the families rescue by getting him a lifetime appointment as the treasurer of Monterey County. (National Steinbeck Center) Salinas, California. This town, located in the county of Monterey, is where Steinbeck was born and is also where he grew up. Salinas is on the central coast of California and is next to the Salinas River. The town was small throughout his early childhood but grew larger and more prosperous as his years there went on. Although this growth was taking place, it was still a hard working agricultural town. The “American Salad Bowl,” as it is commonly referred to, is at the mouth of the Salinas Valley, which is where Steinbeck got a lot of his material for his literary career. He would work in the Valley during his summers at ranches with migrant workers. This is where he learned of the realities of being a migrant worker, along with the fierce realities of human nature. When he wasn’t working he would travel the Valley. (Potter 1) He took in the sights, sounds, and smells of his beloved hometown and they deeply affected him and his writing. His first stories were written as a teenager in the house where he was born. This began John Steinbeck's love for the valley of his birthplace. This affair would take him from a struggling writer to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author celebrated around the world. Steinbeck spent his youth soaking up the rich agricultural valley that would become the setting of many of his novels and stories. (Potter 1) Steinbeck attended the local high school and worked on farms and ranches during his vacations. He would graduate in 1919. To pay for his education, he held many jobs and sometimes dropped out of college for long periods of time. Between 1920 and 1926, he studied marine biology at Stanford University, but did not take a degree because he always planned to be a writer.(Kiernan 13)He did take courses at Stanford that were writing based though. Several of his early poems and stories were put into the university publications. Although he met some people that helped him become a better writer, he felt his time at Stanford University was a...
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