Tag Archives: John Steinbeck

Facebook Didn’t Know Its Own Strength

A Facebook employee compared Mark Zuckerberg to Lennie in “Of Mice and Men,” a man who didn’t know his own strength in the 2016 election.

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Can Art Thwart Trump? A Debate

In which I argue with a writer who claims that art and artists have an inflated sense of their power and that they are irrelevant in the battle against Donald Trump.

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A Kind of Light Spread Out from Her

John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” contributed to the naming of my latest granddaughter.

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The Joads & Steinbeck’s Lenten Message

“The Grapes of Wrath” has a Lenten message with the Joad family lost in the wilderness, led by the Moses/Jesus figure Jim Casy. After Casy is killed, Tom Joad becomes the apostle who takes his vision of a transcendent humankind to the wider world.

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Steinbeck Described Anti-Migrant Protests

The social unrest caused by the flood of immigrants crossing the American border is described in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

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Will Californians Become the New Okies?

The California drought is prompting “Grapes of Wrath” comparisons.

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Lit’s Ten Most Sensitive Guys

To match my 10 strongest literary women characters, here are my 10 most sensitive male characters.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Baldwin (James), Dickens (Charles), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Fielding (Henry), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), McCarthy (Cormac), Melville (Herman), Milton (John), Steinbeck (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Muscles and Mind, Aching to Work

Celebrate May Day with this passage from “Grapes of Wrath,” which emphasizes how vital work is to our sense of self respect.

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Sometimes Whites Need Voting Rights Act

Steinbeck reminds us that it is not only people of color who have had their voting rights infringed.

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Grapes of Wrath, Still Relevant

Life today is a far cry from the Great Depression, but Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” is still relevant.

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“East of Eden” and the Harbaugh Bowl

The Harbaughs’ Super Bowl Rivalry brings to mind the sibling rivalry in Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”

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Steinbeck on Why the Rich Are Unhappy

Steinbeck and the Beowulf poet both point out that piling up wealth does not lead to happiness.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Heller (Joseph), Steinbeck (John), Vonnegut (Kurt) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lit Titles as Cocktails (“The Wasteland”)

NPR’s Studio 360 sponsored a “literary cocktail” contest. We share here some of the highlights.

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The Brave New World of Twitterature

Depending on your point of view, literature reduced to tweets is either comic or horrifying.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Flaubert (Gustave), Forster (E.M.), Kafka (Franz), Milton (John), Proust (Marcel), Salinger (J. D.), Steinbeck (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Steinbeck Makes Microeconomics Real

Economics teacher Steve Ziliak uses Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” to teach the human side of microeconomics.

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Grapes of Wrath Fermenting in Alabama

Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” allows us to see some of the dynamics that the tough new anti-immigration law in Alabama has set into play.

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Twice Left for Dead, Japan Claws Back

Two images came to mind as I twice watched the Japanese soccer team rebound from deficits. One was from Alain’s Renais’s film “Hiroshima Mon Amour” where we see grass clawing its way back in the city streets on the day following the atom bomb. The other was of the tortoise crossing the road in “Grapes of Wrath.”

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Reaching Out to the Needy in Tough Times

Yet having nothing, the Joads still share. In the final scene of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck taps into the legend of “Roman Charity” where a daughter breastfeeds her starving father. In this case, however, Rose of Sharon feeds a starving stranger. A new human family is rising out of the ashes of the old.

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Peyton Manning as Moby Dick?!

Sports Saturday In anticipation of football’s “Wild Card Weekend,” which begins today, I see that a sports writer has invoked Herman Melville’s masterpiece. Dan Graziano believes that Indianapolis Colt quarterback Peyton Manning has become Rex Ryan’s Moby Dick. He has beaten the New York Jets coach so many times that Ryan has become obsessed with […]

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard), Melville (Herman), Steinbeck (John), Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Steinbeck’s Agony (A Reminder to Chill)

My novelist friend Rachel Kranz recently sent me an article by novelist William Kennedy about John Steinbeck’s self-doubts as a writer. She herself has been wrestling with self-doubts, even though she has a completed manuscript of what I think is a remarkable work, and the article lets her know that she is not alone. It […]

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Gambling at Goldman? Shocked, Shocked!

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Captain Renault famously exclaims in Casablanca, only then to be secretly presented with a bribe from the winnings.  Why did this scene come to mind when I heard about the shenanigans of Goldman Sachs this past week? It did so, I suspect, because […]

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Remembering the West Virginia Miners

Ma, Tom, and Pa Joad in John Ford’s Grapes of Wrath      I don’t know a lot about the details of the Massey coal mining accident that killed 29 miners in West Virginia last week, but, from what I’ve been able to make out, it was a non-union mine owned by a heavily fined company that […]

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March Madness, Lightning Strike or Slog?

Sports Saturday Once again March Madness is gripping America.  Once again we see Cinderella teams upsetting the giants (Northern Iowa upsetting top-seeded Kansas, Butler upsetting mighty Syracuse) and games won or lost on remarkable shots made in the waning seconds (Murray State, Michigan State).  Maryland, the team I was rooting for, made a miraculous last […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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