Grapes Of Wrath- Myth Of The Okies

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V. Bourhill Tutorial time: 2:15 607b1795 Tutor: Richard Marshall 09 April 2008 Seminar 2: The Myth of the “Okies” The Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck represents the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era and all the pain and suffering that came with it. Keith Winschuttle in his article The Myth of the Okies sets out to dismiss Steinbeck’s book as a reliable source of history but rather as a novel that captures people’s feelings instead of the true nature of the events. Winschuttle points out Steinbeck’s inaccuracies that deem the novel unreliable. These inaccuracies are discussed below. The tragedy and hardships experienced by the Joad’s were felt by a minority of migrants to California. Unlike Steinbeck’s figure of 300000, it is estimated that 90000 ‘Okies’ migrated to California and of those 3800 were living in squatter villages such as those described in The Grapes of Wrath . It is possible that research he conducted on the ‘Okies’ for a San Francisco newspaper resulted in the inclusion of “fact” however on the whole the novel falls short of being a work of non-fiction . Its period of production may have been the reason for the novel’s reputation as a work of both history and fiction . It was published alongside works of Lange and Taylor whose photographic essay painted a similar picture of the life of the ‘Okies’ . A great misconception created by the book is that of widespread dust storms. In the novel Steinbeck refers to widespread dust storms forcing farmers to tie handkerchieves over their mouths and covering everything . But this was not the case for most of Oklahoma and the only region affected like this was the narrow pan-handle in the far west . This being said all areas of the
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