The Winter of Our Discontent

Topics: John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Novel Pages: 6 (2189 words) Published: September 25, 2006
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27th, 1902. His father worked as country treasurer and his mother was a teacher. Steinbeck had three sisters: two of which were older and one was younger. Steinbeck often returns back to his hometown of Salinas, a place that he alludes to often in his writings.

Steinbeck went to Stanford University in 1919, but was not what one would call a "typical student." Steinbeck simply took classes that interested him harnessed his writing skills while working odd jobs. Steinbeck's first novel was the rather unsuccessful mythological tale of the Cup of Gold. Published in 1929, its luke-warm reception did not faze him. Steinbeck continued writing and married Carol Henning in 1930. This would not be his last trip to the altar – he ended up marrying three times. In 1935 Steinbeck published his first success – Tortilla Flat – which later was made into a film in 1942. Tortilla Flat earned Steinbeck the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. In 1937, Steinbeck published Of Mice and Men, a tragedy done in the form of a novella. Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath, a Pulitzer Prize winner, in 1939. In 1940, the book was made into a film. Steinbeck's other works include Cannery Row (1945), The Moon is Down (1942), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952).

Steinbeck's two sons were a result of his second wife, Gwyndolyn Steinbeck. Thomas Myles Steinbeck was born in 1944 and John Steinbeck IV was born in 1946. They divorced quite shortly after the birth of John IV. In 1950, Steinbeck married Elaine Scoot, whom he stayed with until his death.

Steinbeck's political views can be largely seen through his writing, and were often a major source of his criticisms. For instance, The Grapes of Wrath brought on much controversy due to Steinbeck's liberal views. Steinbeck once wrote, ""The vilification of me out here from the large landowners and bankers is pretty bad. The latest is a rumor started by them that the Okies hate me and have threatened to kill me for lying about them. I'm frightened at the rolling might of this damned thing, It is completely out of hand; I mean a kind of hysteria about the book is growing that is not healthy." It is also interesting to note that both film versions of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men were being filmed at the same time by different movie studios. This in turn allowed Steinbeck the pleasure of "visiting the set" of one movie one day, and of the other the next day.

Steinbeck also had an interest in biology. In 1940, he went on a voyage with his friend Ed Ricketts to the Gulf of California. There, Steinbeck helped collect biological specimens and the voyage results in the later published, Log from the Sea of Cortez. During World War II, Steinbeck was a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Steinbeck also traveled to Vietnam, where both of his sons had served. Steinbeck also continued to work with the film industry, writing Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944), and the film A Medal for Benny (1945). Steinbeck also wrote The Pearl (1947) after the war. Before even finishing the novel, Steinbeck knew it was to be filmed. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963. When Steinbeck died Charles Poore of the New York Times wrote, "His place in [U. S.] literature is secure. And it lives on in the works of innumerable writers who learned from him how to present the forgotten man unforgettably." Critical Analysis

Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent is not just a step down from his Pulitzer Prize-winning Novel The Grapes of Wrath and critically acclaimed novella Of Mice and Men – it is an entire flight of stairs down. While it can be seen as a decent description of how temptation can lead to a spiraling disregard for morals, it is not anywhere near the caliber of the two aforementioned novels. The Winter of Our Discontent was Steinbeck's last novel, and while many literary "last-ditch" efforts...

Cited: • James J. Martine (1981). Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 9: American Novelists, 1910-1945, Part 3. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company
• Riley, Carolyn (1990). Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Volume 5. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Inc.
• Benson, Jackson (1984). John Steinbeck, Writer. Hudson Street, New York: Penguin Group
• Steinbeck, John (1961). The Winter of Our Discontent. Hudson Street, New York: Penguin Books
• John Steinbeck. 10 May 2006. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 13 May 2006.
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