The Depression The period, lasting roughly from1930 to the start of World War II in 1939, is known as the Depression.
The Depression• Unemployment brought with it poverty, hunger and homelessness.• Firms and banks went bust and people’s savings disappeared when the banks closed• It was hard to buy food and pay the rent
A Philadelphia storekeeper told a reporter of one family he was keeping going• Eleven children in that house. They’ve got no shoes, no pants. In the house, no chairs. My God, you go in there, you cry, that’s all.
California or Bust• In the country, especially in the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, things were almost worse than they were in the cities• Farmers were being driven off their land• There had been a series of droughts which had ruined the crops and dried up the soil, and farmers could not afford to re-pay the bank loans which had helped them buy their farms.• When the banks took the land back, whole families had to move – but where to?
California or Bust• People headed to California, where the soil was good and there was supposed to be plenty of room.• Steinbeck didn’t mention these farmers directly in ‘Of Mice and Men’. Instead, he makes George and Lennie dream of a little piece of land/• The two men come to represent in a simple way the hunger for land of many millions of people, and their dream of being able to settle down.
Reality• For most of the farmers the dream never came true• They were driven away by the Californians who thought they were going to be overrun.• They had nowhere to go back to, and many lived in vast camps like refugee camps in the California valleys.