A Comparison of The Harvest Gypsies and Of Mice and Men

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A Comparison of The Harvest Gypsies and Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck does not portray migrant farm worker life accurately in Of Mice and Men. Housing, daily wages, and social interaction were very different in reality. This paper will demonstrate those differences by comparing the fictional work of Steinbeck to his non-fictional account of the time, The Harvest Gypsies.

The first area that will be compared is housing. In Of Mice and Men the housing is described by the following passage:

"The bunk house was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted. In three walls there were small square windows, and in the fourth, a solid door with a wooden latch. Against the walls were eight bunks, five of them made up with blankets and the other three showing burlap ticking..." (17)

This passage implies that George and Lennie, the fictional characters of Steinbeck's novel, lived in relative comfort as they worked the farm. If one compares this to a similar passage from The Harvest Gypsies:

"The house is 10 feet by 10 feet, and it is built completely of corrugated paper. The roof is peaked, the walls are tacked to a wooden frame. The dirt floor is swept clean, and along the irrigation ditch or in the muddy river...." " ...and the family possesses three old quilts and soggy, lumpy mattress. With the first rain the carefully built house will slop down into a brown, pulpy mush." (27-28)

It is easily seen that the housing of the actual migrant workers varied greatly from the characters in Of Mice and Men. Finding that the housing for the workers differed, it leads one to believe that other differences existed as well.

Another area that Steinb...

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... However, these three do show the literary freedom taken by Steinbeck as we follow his characters George and Lennie. Although George and Lennie didn't live the high life compared to most readers, they would have lived the high life compared to actual migrant farm workers. This supports the notion that Of Mice and Men does not accurately portray the lives of migrant farm workers. Steinbeck improved their lives so vastly that reading The Harvest Gypsies was a total shock and difficult to imagine that conditions were as bad as they were.

Works Cited

Davis, Robert Murray. Steinbeck: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Viking, 1998.

---. The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath. Charles Wollenberg, ed. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1988.
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