• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the social and historical implications of the dreams of American migrant workers in the 1930s and compare the ways these are expressed through the media of Steinbeck's novel, cinema, stage and contemporary country music.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the social and historical implications of the dreams of American migrant workers in the 1930s and compare the ways these are expressed through the media of Steinbeck's novel, cinema, stage and contemporary country music In the 1930s, a Great Depression spread across America, dominating the political landscape. Thousands of Americans lost their jobs as banks collapsed and industries closed. Many men turned to, what the critic Morseburger calls, "Jeffersonian agrarianism"; they roved west, seeking jobs on farms. Jefferson was an American President who believed that many opportunities were to be taken in the West. These were known as the migrant farm workers. Many families and friends were pulled apart, rendering many people lonely and cynical about success and dreams. However, many people shared a dream: the American Dream - the dream of getting your own land and living happily and comfortably on your own ranch. In Steinbeck's novel, two main characters share this dream - Lennie and George. Lennie and George are different from most migrant farm workers in that they travel together, almost as brothers, and protect each other. They plan to "get the jack together" and "have a little house and a couple of acres". The most dramatically significant part of their dream is Lennie's wish to "tend the rabbits". Steinbeck energises this semantic field around animals throughout the novel to create a sense of fate and tragedy. Lennie's dream is very childlike, but it also has tragic undertones. During the course of the novel, we meet a character called Candy, a "tall, stoop-shouldered old man". ...read more.

Middle

Jonathan Church produced the stage production I went to see, and Matthew Kelly played the part of Lennie. Church stuck closely with Steinbeck's script, but due to the limitations of stage, he was not able to re-create the dreamy opening sequence that is present in the novel. Instead, Simon Higlett's setting at the beginning consisted of six stacks of hay and a water pool (which remained there throughout the production) in the foreground. I think he was trying to establish the farming environment where much of the events take place, making everything clear to the audience early on. Jonathon attempted to recreate the fire that George and Lennie sit around. The fire has some significance to the narrative in that it represents the beginning and end of something, in this case, the start of the tragedy and the destruction of the dream. However, this did not work particularly well in the theatre as other lighting was dominant and it was small - not much emphasis was placed on it. Despite this, Tim Mitchell followed Steinbeck's lighting very carefully. For example, when the tragedy of Curley's wife occurs, the source of light was very low, casting long, gloomy shadows across the stage. The effective use of this lighting added to the mood of the play and emphasised the failure of the American Dream. The setting and lighting throughout the novel was extremely effective and helpful for the audience to recognise the wider significance of the dreams and events that occur in the production. ...read more.

Conclusion

The people who sang these folk songs did so right from their hearts. The song I listened to was called 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain', which on the surface appeared to be very child-like, just like Lennie - "The cops have wooden legs, The bulldogs all have rubber teeth". The singer is mocking the American dream. This mockery sheds light on where Steinbeck began with his novel; he started writing for children and the song is apparently for children. The singer is also very mocking of the dream of Heaven - "streams of alkyhol, Come trickling down the rocks". This semantic field links in with when God told Moses to strike the rock so streams of milk will come down. Also, the 'big rock candy mountain', can be seen as a metaphor for heaven. The singer evidently does not care much for law and order - "The cops have wooden legs", and his hopes about the weather are very unrealistic - "Where there ain't no snow, Where the sleet don't fall, And the winds don't blow". He is saying that the law doesn't exist in dreams, and the weather is not an issue at all in dreams! The impossibility of these hopes backs up the idea that the American dream can never be achieved. I find that novel and song are the most effective ways of expressing the tragedy of the American dream. However, all of the dreams evoked from all kinds of media are tragic, and it is upsetting how so many people need to believe in a dream to find something to live for. All of the media deliver one message: dreams don't come true. Andrew Evans 11O set 1 Media Assignment ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. Compare the American dream with the reality of a migrant worker (Steinbecks - Of ...

    Crooks hates his own room because he is lonely. As Crooks say's 'A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody' and 'A guy gets too lonely and he gets sick'. He has become bitter and cynical with the racial discrimination he gets and his loneliness.

  2. How does life on the ranch reflect the social issues of 1930's America

    It was a very hard time for black people. White people didn't understand the black community and were mean and cruel to them. They thought that black people had no place in their society. The whole county was led into racism. Steinbeck created a black character called Crooks which had a crocked back and worked as a stable buck.

  1. Explore John Steinbeck's presentation in Of Mice and Men of the culture and experience ...

    Steinbeck does not just show the different levels of power in animals and humans, but with humans together, for example the Boss not really being present in the novel, except when George and Lennie arrive, when he is questioning them, the Boss was 'sore as hell' when they were late,

  2. 'How does the novel Of Mice And Men reflect life in the 1930s'

    It would be better to put it down. Candy is also very keep to get in with George and Lennie's dream as he is getting old and afraid the boss will just get rid of him when he is no good.

  1. Of Mice and Men is set in the 1930's, this is important as during ...

    The stark and bland words such as "unpainted" help to create a physical atmosphere, telling the reader what the bunk-house actually looks like. References to sound, "Flies shot in" not only build up the idea of movement in the scene, but also add a living quality to an inanimate scene, giving it noise.

  2. In this assignment I will explain why the main characters in Willy Russell's "Blood ...

    George voices his dislike of Curley and warns Lennie to avoid him at all costs. The next character that Steinbeck places in the doorway of the bunk house for George and Lennie to meet is Curley's wife, young and made up very prettily.

  1. Lennie Small is the central character in the novel, 'Of Mice and Men'. The ...

    Lennie does however, give something in return, he is a good worker, he can do the work of two men. This is very useful for George. It helps them get and keep work, until Lennie mucks it all up. Lennie is also a killer.

  2. How does Steinbeck present the hope of dream in contrast to the bitter reality ...

    Steinbeck repeatedly uses ?got? through out George?s monologue forcing the reader to believe that the pair are different to the conventional migrant workers. This can be furthered when George states ?but not us?. This declarative sentence suggests their differentiation and better state from the ordinary migrant workers.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work