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The Great Depression and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

Satisfactory Essays
The Great Depression and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

Though most Americans are aware of the Great Depression of 1929,

which may well be "the most serious problem facing our free enterprise

economic system", few know of the many Americans who lost their homes,

life savings and jobs. This paper briefly states the causes of the

depression and summarizes the vast problems Americans faced during the

eleven years of its span. This paper primarily focuses on what life

was like for farmers during the time of the Depression, as portrayed

in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and tells what the government

did to end the Depression.

In the 1920's, after World War 1, danger signals were apparent

that a great Depression was coming. A major cause of the Depression

was that the pay of workers did not increase at all. Because of this,

they couldn't afford manufactured goods. While the factories were

still manufacturing goods, Americans weren't able to afford them and

the factories made no money (Drewry and O'connor 559).

Another major cause related to farmers. Farmers weren't doing to

well because they were producing more crops and farm products than

could be sold at high prices. Therefore, they made a very small

profit. This insufficient profit wouldn't allow the farmers to

purchase new machinery and because of this they couldn't produce goods

quick enough (Drewry and O'connor 559).

A new plan was created called the installment plan. This plan was

established because many Americans didn't have enough money to buy

goods and services that were needed or wanted. The installment plan

stated that people could buy products on credit and make monthly

payments. The one major problem with this idea was that people soon

found out that they couldn't afford to make the monthly payment(Drewry

and O'connor 559).

In 1929 the stock market crashed. Many Americans purchased stocks

because they were certain of the economy. People started selling

their stocks at a fast pace; over sixteen million stocks were sold!

Numerous stock prices dropped to fraction of their value. Banks lost

money from the stock market and from Americans who couldn't pay back

loans. Many factories lost money and went out of business because of
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