Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

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Overview

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 ...

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Understanding Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony and The Pearl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

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Overview

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.

The purpose of this volume is to explore through analysis and collateral readings the pervasive theme in these novellas: the universality of humankind's often futile struggle for a better existence. Steinbeck shows that the American vision is shaped by the dream of a better life represented in the myth of the West. A social and political commentator, he dramatizes in all three novellas the social issues of the time. The first chapter of this study, a literary analysis, examines key themes common to all three novellas. The remaining chapters place the works in historical context. Old California and the West includes accounts of 18th- and 19th-century travelers to California who dreamed of a better life. Land Ownership examines the meaning of land ownership in the West and its corruption. The Vagrant Farm Worker: Homeless in Paradise features memoirs and journals of itinerant workers as well as Mark Twain's Roughing It and a study of the hobo. Losers of the American Dream deals with the homeless and hopeless during the early years of this century and the Great Depression. The American Dream in a Mexican Setting illuminates the lives of the oppressed in Mexico which provoked a century of revolutions. Each chapter concludes with study questions, ideas for class discussion and student projects and papers, and a list of books for further reading. This is an ideal companion for teacher use and student research in English and American history classes.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A collection of primary material shedding light on the three novellas by American writer John Steinbeck (1902-1968). They include memoirs of mountain men and pioneers, travel books, sociological studies, a political treatise, a journal, and an interview with a Salvation Army general who worked with the poor during the Great Depression. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

CLAUDIA DURST JOHNSON has recently retired as Professor of English at the University of Alabama, where she chaired the English Department for 12 years. She is the series editor of the Greenwood Press "Literature in Context" series, which includes her works Understanding Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1996), Understanding The Scarlet Letter (1995), and Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird (1994). She is also the author of To Kill a Mockingbird: Threatening Boundaries (1994); American Actress: Perspectives on the Nineteenth Century (1984); (with Vernon Johnson) Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century Theatre (Greenwood, 1982); The Productive Tension of Hawthorne's Art (1981); and (with Henry Jacobs) An Annotated Bibliography of Shakespearean Burlesques, Parodies, and Travesties (1976), as well as numerous articles on American literature and theatre.

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Table of Contents

"The Triumph of Our Species": A Literary Analysis of Three Steinbeck Novels

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

Old California and the West

From Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America

From John Todd's The Sunset Land Or, The Great Pacific Slope

From Washington Irving's Captain Bonneville

From John Bidwell's "The First Emigrant Train to California"

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

Land Ownership

From Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice

From Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's Letters From An American Farmer

From Josiah Royce's California. A Study of American Character

From The Homestead Act of 1862 The Statutes At Large, Treaties, and Proclamations of the United States of America

From Henry George, Jr.'s "The Lands of the United States," in The Life of Henry George

From "The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act" in Statutes At Large, Treaties and Proclamations of the United States of America

From Carey McWilliams' Ill Fares the Land

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

The Vagrant Farm Worker: Homeless in Paradise

From James P. Beckwourth's The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth. Written from his own Dictation, by T. D. Bonner

From Franklin Langworthy's Scenery of the Plains, Mountains and Mines: Or A Diary Kept upon the Overland Route to California, by Way of the Great Salt Lake...In the Years 1850, '51, '52 and '53

From John S. Hittell's The Resources of California

From Josiah Royce's California...A Study of American Character

From Mark Twain's "California: Character of thePopulation" Roughing It

From Migratory Labor in American Agriculture: Report of the President's Commission on Migratory Labor

From the Journal of a Working Man in John N. Webb's The Migratory-Casual Worker

From Nels Anderson's The Hobo. The Sociology of the Homeless Man

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

Losers of the American Dream

From Alice Willard Solenberger's One Thousand Homeless Men

From Nels Anderson's The Hobo

From Carey McWilliams' Ill Fares the Land

From William T. and Dorothy E. Cross' Newcomers and Nomads in California

An Interview with Brigadier Luther Smith of Birmingham, Alabama

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

The American Dream in a Mexican Setting

From James H. Wilkins' A Glimpse of Old Mexico

From Elizabeth Visere McGary's An American Girl in Mexico

From William Seymour Edwards' On the Mexican Highlands

From A. A. Graham's Mexico With Comparisons and Conclusions

From Mrs. Alec Tweedie's Mexico As I Saw It

From H. Hamilton Fyfe's The Real Mexico

From Edward Alsworth Ross' The Social Revolution in Mexico

Questions for Written or Oral Exploration

Suggestions for Further Reading

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    ??

    If i did not understand these books before what makes them think iwant to buy a $52 book to understand it.

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    Posted August 29, 2013

    To Jaguartooth

    ((Jag, i Roleplay Zacdash.)) <br>
    •~&#8366hymeDust~•

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    Amberpaw

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    Cinderwolf

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    Jaguartootj

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    Way to much

    Tooo much money!

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