Narrative: The Life of John Steinbeck

An Expressive and Reflective View

Narrative: The Life of John Steinbeck

Anthony Humpal, FDSH Student

Students in the Intro to Writing class wrote expressive and reflective essays.  Anthony chose to research and write as John Steinbeck.


The Life of John Steinbeck


     I never fathomed writing a book deriving from my life experiences. It was hard to live during the Great Depression- working on a farm, I was so terrified to lose my job, but I needed the money to continue to write and get my books published. Throughout all of the hard work and struggle, I learned a great life lesson; never give up even when life gets hard. With all the struggle I accomplished what I loved, and that was writing. I have been in love with reading and writing since I was a youthful boy.

     It was 1925, I left my job at Spreckels Sugar Ranch. I was always fond of Stanford college, but never received my degree. Instead I decided to head east to New York City, to continue following my dream of becoming an author. All in a comfy seat of a freight train. Once I arrived, I stayed there for only a year, before deciding to head back to California. That was one of the smartest ideas that I undertook. When I returned I worked as a handyman for a resort. Three years later, I published my first book Cup of Gold. It was a story about the real-life pirate Henry Morgan. This book didn’t get that much attention and will probably be the least popular book. Although it was my first, I didn’t give up. About a year after my book was out, I married Carol Henning, and we lived in a tiny cottage in Coastal Pacific Grove. Over the last couple of years, I have found my groove and I was able to get my best work out. Made myself happier and happier by the day, all in my tiny home and loving wife. I published two more books during that decade, but both didn’t attract that much attention. That didn’t obstruct me from writing. I was in love with it and 1935 came. I published my first book that earned significant attention from critics, Tortilla Flat, the story took place during my high school work life, in my home county of Monterey. It involved my connection with friends and the conflict of World War 1 had with them. It earned so much popularity that I received my first gold medal from the California Commonwealth Club. A year later, I WON ANOTHER ONE for the book In Dubious Battle. I was so excited, and this proved that I was doing better. I even remember that morning I was having my mug of coffee just looking through the mail. When I opened the letter it spilled all over me. I had to prove myself and I finally found my voice and just in time the roaring twenties were coming to an end, and I had to get into serious matters and continue doing what I love.  

    That’s when the Great Depression hit, the banks collapsed, the stock market plummeted, and to make it worse it was the worst decade for agriculture. The crops were not holding the soil, due to over-plowing, and the drought we suffered from, for years there was the dust bowl. During these difficult years, I found two hard-working men who took part in a cotton strike and set up an interview, to ask about their experience, which came to the book, In Dubious Battle.

       I decided to follow a group of migrant workers that were displaced by the dust bowl. Where multiple books came with this experience. That’s how I received the idea for the book, Of Mice and Men,  one of my most selling books. It showed the struggle of two farm workers that had to face going to different farms, and Lennie, a mentally challenged person that had to be taken care of. It was one of my favorites.  It was a success and I was fulfilling my dream. Hopefully, it gets taught in school when talking about the great depression.

     Today I just published the book The Grapes of Wrath. I find it my best work and it would be my final part of my dream to get the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It’s the goal of any writer and it would be amazing. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t fail. My first book was not a success along with the next two, but I didn’t give up, I followed what I love even with the great depression and dust bowl. I continued to get stronger and better. I wrote a couple of award-winning books, and this one feels like the best. I hope I get this reward. It would be the cherry on top.