Skip to content

Travels with charley in search of america essay

Steinbeck in 1909 with his sister Travels with charley in search of america essay, sitting on the red pony, Jill, at the Salinas Fairgrounds. John Steinbeck was born in the farming town of Salinas, California on 27 February 1902. Sperry flour plant, the owner of a feed and grain store, the treasurer of Monterey County. His mother, the strong-willed Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, was a former teacher.

The observant, shy but often mischievous only son had, for the most part, a happy childhood growing up with two older sisters, Beth and Esther, and a much-adored younger sister, Mary. Never wealthy, the family was nonetheless prominent in the small town of 3,000, for both parents engaged in community activities. Steinbeck a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and founder of The Wanderers, a women’s club that traveled vicariously through monthly reports. British literature, writing courses, and a smattering of science.

The President of the English Club said that Steinbeck, who regularly attended meetings to read his stories aloud, “had no other interests or talents that I could make out. After leaving Stanford, he briefly tried construction work and newspaper reporting in New York City, and then returned to his native state in order to hone his craft. Henry Morgan, and met the woman who would become his first wife, Carol Henning, a San Jose native. To a God Unknown, second written and third published, tells of patriarch Joseph Wayne’s domination of and obsession with the land. Mystical and powerful, the novel testifies to Steinbeck’s awareness of an essential bond between humans and the environments they inhabit. Undoubtedly his ecological, holistic vision was determined both by his early years roaming the Salinas hills and by his long and deep friendship with the remarkable Edward Flanders Ricketts, a marine biologist.

The working title for Of Mice and Men, for example, was “Something That Happened “- this is simply the way life is. Steinbeck’s writing style as well as his social consciousness of the 1930s was also shaped by an equally compelling figure in his life, his wife Carol. She helped edit his prose, urged him to cut the Latinate phrases, typed his manuscripts, suggested titles, and offered ways to restructure. In 1935, having finally published his first popular success with tales of Monterey’s paisanos, Tortilla Flat, Steinbeck, goaded by Carol, attended a few meetings of nearby Carmel’s John Reed Club.

At the height of his powers, Steinbeck followed this large canvas with two books that round-out what might be called his labor trilogy. The tightly-focused Of Mice and Men was one of the first in a long line of “experiments,” a word he often used to identify a forthcoming project. This “play-novelette,” intended to be both a novella and a script for a play, is a tightly-drafted study of bindlestiffs through whose dreams he wanted to represent the universal longings for a home. Published at the apex of the Depression, the book about dispossessed farmers captured the decade’s angst as well as the nation’s legacy of fierce individualism, visionary prosperity, and determined westward movement. The author abandoned the field, exhausted from two years of research trips and personal commitment to the migrants’ woes, from the five-month push to write the final version, from a deteriorating marriage to Carol, and from an unnamed physical malady. He retreated to Ed Ricketts and science, announcing his intention to study seriously marine biology and to plan a collecting trip to the Sea of Cortez. New York Herald Tribune as a war correspondent.

Steinbeck often felt misunderstood by book reviewers and critics, and their barbs rankled the sensitive writer, and would throughout his career. Reviewers seemed doggedly either to misunderstand his biological naturalism or to expect him to compose another strident social critique like The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck faltered both professionally and personally in the 1940s. He divorced the loyal but volatile Carol in 1943. That same year he moved east with his second wife, Gwyndolen Conger, a lovely and talented woman nearly twenty years his junior who ultimately came to resent his growing stature and feel that her own creativity – she was a singer – had been stifled. This is ‘the book’Always I had this book waiting to be written.

Like The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden is a defining point in his career. During the 1950s and 1960s the perpetually “restless” Steinbeck traveled extensively throughout the world with his third wife, Elaine. With her, he became more social. East of Eden, his most ambitious post-Grapes novel, cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with his searing social novels of the 1930s. The musical version by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Pipe Dream , was one of the team’s few failures. In 1957 he published the satiric The Short Reign of Pippin IV, a tale about the French Monarchy gaining ascendancy.

But the writer John Steinbeck was not silenced. As always, he wrote reams of letters to his many friends and associates. In the 1950s and 1960s he published scores of journalistic pieces: “Making of a New Yorker,” “I Go Back to Ireland,” columns about the 1956 national political conventions, and “Letters to Alicia,” a controversial series about a 1966 White House-approved trip to Vietnam where his sons were stationed. In these late years, in fact since his final move to New York in 1950, many accused John Steinbeck of increasing conservatism. True enough that with greater wealth came the chance to spend money more freely. He lived in modest houses all his life, caring little for lavish displays of power or wealth.

He always preferred talking to ordinary citizens wherever he traveled, sympathizing always with the disenfranchised. He was a Stevenson Democrat in the 1950s. In fact, neither during his life nor after has the paradoxical Steinbeck been an easy author to pigeonhole personally, politically, or artistically. As a man, he was an introvert and at the same time had a romantic streak, was impulsive, garrulous, a lover of jests and word play and practical jokes. As an artist, he was a ceaseless experimenter with words and form, and often critics did not “see” quite what he was up to.

Published inessay