An analysis of the influence of eugenic theory and language on John Steinbeck's thinking and tactics as he was preparing to write, and writing, The Grapes of Wrath.
Kevin gives an overview of the book:
The notion that an understanding of science, especially of those branches of biology which have an ecological focus, is important to an appreciation of Steinbeck's works has been a critical commonplace since at least Richard Astro's book on Ed Ricketts's influence on the novelist. Brian Railsback's recent study of Steinbeck and Darwin continues this tradition, praising the influence of science in Steinbeck's writing. When it comes to Darwinism and especially to Darwin's bastard offspring the social Darwinists and the eugenicists, there is much reason to examine both the value of some of the so-called "science" which influenced Steinbeck and the role which such pseudo-science played in Steinbeck's works.
...The one notable exception to Steinbeck's generally progressive depictions of race is the series of articles about the Okies which he wrote in 1936 for the San Francisco News. That series contains many sections in which racialized discourse drawn from what then often passed for science becomes the grounds for a call to help the downtrodden immigrants from the Dust Bowl. That these articles were part of Steinbeck's preparation for writing The Grapes of Wrath makes them especially important. It also suggests the need for a serious reconsideration of the role of race and racialized discourse in that novel.
I am a 5th generation Californian, descended from '49ers who headed south in 1870. My great-great grandfather was the first doctor in Santa Ana. I was born in Santa Ana and raised there and in Irvine. I moved to Northern California to attend Stanford University and become a...