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An analysis of how political, economical and agricultural developments shaped John Steinbeck’s writing of 'Of Mice and Men'. The narrator explains how the Wall Street Crash of 1929 had catastrophic effects on the lives of American citizens, resulting in soaring unemployment and massive competition for jobs. We explore the reaction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and see primary cinematic footage of his speeches intended to inspire and reassure the American nation. We examine 'The Dust Bowl', a natural disaster that occurred in the South West and investigate the implications this had on life for Steinbeck and the characters he created.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
16 January 2008

Classroom Ideas

Can be used to help students link their learning about the historical context to their understanding of the text. After watching the clip, students (working in pairs) are presented with ten statements gleaned from the clip eg the stock market crash of 1929 meant that millions of dollars of savings were wiped out, millions of people found themselves unemployed, America went into shock, people flooded out of the paralysed cities into the countryside. For each statement they must find a suitable reference or quotation/s from the text (or opening chapter). Students could then choose five of these points, to develop into a commentary about the influence of the historical context on the novel.

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