Steinbeck Americans Essay

In his essay "Paradox and Dream," John Steinbeck makes a number of arguments, including the following:

  • Americans tend to be "a restless, a dissatisfied, a searching people."
  • Partly for this reason, they act excessively, taking everything to an extreme.
  • Americans often hold views that are not only extreme but self-contradictory.
  • Americans tend to be obsessed with being financially secure and will do almost anything to achieve that goal.
  • In numerous ways, American behavior is fundamentally inconsistent and involves trying to square circles and embrace opposites. In short,

Americans seem to live and breathe and function by paradox . . .

  • In particular, Americans like to consider themselves self-reliant, yet they are often anything but. Their lives, more and more, involve the possession of fewer and fewer practical, useful skills.


The paradoxes are everywhere: We shout that we are a nation of laws, not men-and then proceed to break every law we can if we can get away with it. We proudly insist that we base our political positions on the issues--and we will vote against a man because of his religion, his name, or the shape of his nose.

  • Americans are inconsistent in such other ways as in their attitudes toward gender roles, their attitudes toward advertising, their various fears, their views of entertainment, and their views of art.
  • The aspirations of Americans have little to do with the actual lives most of them live, and when their aspirations are achieved, they are often quickly discarded for new ones.
  • Americans are increasingly transient and unsettled.
  • The American obsession with status leads to an obsession with constant change.
  • The dreams of Americans seem to reflect realities of the nation’s past and seem connected with birth in the United States.
  • In American myths of morality (such as those associated with the Old West),

virtue does not arise out of reason or orderly process of law--it is imposed and maintained by violence.

  • The deepest aspirations of Americans

describe our vague yearnings toward what we wish were and hope we may be: wise, just, compassionate, and noble. The fact that we have this dream at all is perhaps an indication of its possibility.

The American Dream According to John Steinbeck Essay

934 Words4 Pages

John Steinbeck, author of many classic American novels, greatly influenced modern American literature. Steinbeck often referred to the Salinas Valley of California in his writing. He often referred to the settlers and the adversities they had faced during the migration to the Salinas Valley area. With novels such as Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath, Steinbeck explained the harsh reality of the severe hardships the settlers faced to accomplish the American Dream. These novels share many similarities in regard to their themes. To understand Steinbeck’s work, we must first understand Steinbeck.
     John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. His father was a treasurer for the county. Steinbeck’s…show more content…

From this, Steinbeck went on to write many more great American novels. These novels include Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath which were both written in the late 1930's as well as East Of Eden, written in 1952. Steinbeck eventually earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his works. John Steinbeck died in 1968 having written countless classic novels.
     In Of Mice And Men, the main characters, George and Lennie, are poor migrant workers who travel throughout the Salinas Valley in search of work. Throughout the novel, George and Lennie are in search of the American Dream. They crave the opportunity to work, land to call their own and being their own bosses by working off of that land. George and Lennie feel that they are different than other migrant workers because they have dreams and they rely on each other.
     George and Lennie find work on a farm “bucking barley.” On this farm they meet the laborers as well as other characters of this novel including Candy (an older laborer), Crooks (the black stable hand), the boss, Curley (a short man who happens to be the bosses son), Curley’s wife (a lonely woman easily excited by the attention of men), Carlson (a ranchhand) and Slim (the local authority figure). The characters in this novel all seem to want to transform their lives and are not able to do so. Curley’s wife, a failed actress, is living day to day hoping that she will be able to fulfill her

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