Steinbeck set his novel in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
A series of droughts in the country meant that a ‘dust bowl’ was created, causing crop failures. Whole families had to move, and many headed West in search of work. Refugee camps were created, and emergency accommodation (‘Hoovervilles’) sprang up. There was no system of state relief, so many were forced to beg for the means to live. Because of the mass unemployment, those who managed to find work had to accept very bad working conditions and low pay, and many had to become migrant workers, moving from ranch to ranch in search of work.
Activities Find evidence of any of the effects of the Depression in the novel.
Answer the question: How are the ranch workers affected by the context of the story?