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His novels have made him very famous and also put Salinas, California on the map. His status has risen in Salinas as he promised. In this paper, I will be telling you about his life and why he was important. John Ernst Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California which had a population of around 5,000 people at the time. His parents were John Steinbeck, a manager at Sperry flour mill, and Olive Hamilton, a school teacher.
Steinbeck lived in a small town named Salinas in California. He liked to read and write ever since he was a little kid, which affected his writing in a good way. He was born where ranchers and farmers thrived. When he was four years old, he got a pony named Jill, which was inspiration for some of his books. Steinbeck was a restless and curious child. In his younger years, he thought of himself as a rebel and an outsider. When he was 11, his dad lost his job at the flour mill.
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In his teenage years, he would sit in his attic telling friends some of his stories and stay up late writing. By age 14, he knew that he wanted to become a writer. John focused everything on writing. He grew up to write many stories that others were not willing to tell. His dedication led him to a Nobel peace prize and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1919, John Steinbeck attended Stanford College to improve his writing. He went to that college on and off for 6 years but did not earn a degree. After college, he tried to live in New York. He did not like living there and quickly moved back to California and lived in Lake Tahoe. That is where he met his first wife.
In 1929, John Steinbeck wrote his first novel, “Cup of Gold.” It was based on the life of privateer Henry Morgan. Cup of Gold was not successful. In 1925, Steinbeck reached his first critical success with the story “Tortilla Flat.” The book shares the adventures of Monterey paisanos. It was made into a film in 1942.
In 1939, Steinbeck wrote the novel Grapes of Wrath. This became one of his most successful books. The book tells the story of a family named The Joads. They were poor tenant farmers and faced many hardships. It was the best selling book in 1939 and won the national book award. It is also considered his most controversial novel. So much so that it had gotten banned from schools and libraries for two years.
John Steinbeck was a patriot like everyone else during Pearl Harbor. He could not serve in the army because the government thought he had communist leanings because of the Grapes of Wrath. During that time, he followed and journaled a bomber team around America. He wrote the book Bombs Away that told the story of a bomber team with those recordings. That same year he published another book about the war. The book was called the Moon is Down. It was about a village in northern Europe. He captured the fear and emotions of being there in that time. In some countries, people could be killed for having a copy of the book. Steinbeck also wrote a film called Lifeboat. It was about a group that was stranded in the Atlantic Ocean. Director Alfred Hitchcock made some drastic changes to it so he took his name out of it.
One year after, Thomas Steinbeck, one of John’s only two sons, was born, he published the book Cannery Row. The book is about characters who live and work on Monterey’s Ocean View Avenue. It was a very complex book. It became so famous that the Ocean View Avenue would later be renamed to Cannery Row in 1958. East of Eden is a novel that was published in 1952. It was supposed to be his big work of his career. It was based on his mother’s family history and took around a year to complete.
Later in his life he would suffer mini strokes and died in 1968. John Steinbeck wrote many important novels that were very descriptive and helped readers understand the challenges that poor, working class people went through during important times in our history. His works led him to win awards and his books are still important today.
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