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Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: English 1302 Ms. Henry

Grapes of Wrath Research Project Instructions

Introduction: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is considered the "Great American Novel" and in 1940, the book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In preparation for this novel study, it is important to understand events of the Great Depression.
You will receive your own personal copy of the book to highlight and make annotations; this book is for you to keep to build your own personal library. Throughout the novel study, you will work in small groups of 4-5 members to create a historical research project, discuss critical companion questions, and write an essay. Your first group project will be to research cultural, social, and economic conditions that occurred during the Great Depression. Research topics and curated sources are located in the box below. Topics may not be duplicated. Each group will present a final product in a "gallery walk" and share what they learned about the Great Depression with their classmates.
Project Requirements:
- Minimum of nine slides (included title and works cited) in Microsoft PowerPoint
- Begin your research with curated resources found on this guide (additional information made be researched from AHS or EPCC databases and library books)
- Information in the body of the PowerPoint reflects research conducted in the library
- Minimum of three sources in MLA format using NoodleTools
- Provide one visual per slide from the Library of Congress digital collections
(all visuals must be cited along with the three source minimum)
- Presentation must be voice narrated and run continuously during the gallery walk

Research Topics

Building Historical Context for The Grapes of Wrath through Collaborative Research

Your first group project will be to research cultural, social, and economic conditions that occurred during the Great Depression. You will have two library days for research and the library will have extended hours on Monday after school for additional research assistance.
*See your librarians or teacher if you need help with the database usernames and passwords. We will also have them posted on a white board.

Step 1: Set-up group work norms.
- Create a group of 4-5 team members.
- Choose a topic from the tabbed list.
- Review the steps below for your research.
- Divide up the work equally among each member.
-
Be accountable to one another and do your fair share.

Step 2: NoodleTools
-
Set up a NoodleTools project and share with your teacher, librarian, and group members.
- Choose MLA Advanced as your format
- In the "To-Do" section, record your group norms for sharing the researching tasks.
- When researching, cite all sources in MLA format and use the notecards for collaborative note taking.

Step 3: As a group, watch the overview video and answer the 5 Ws on one notecard.
Who:
What:
When:

Where:
Why:
How:

Step 4: Each topic has a set of  deep dive questions for your group to consider. Use the library database articles and books to help you analyze the questions. Record your notes using the notecards in NoodleTools. Make sure to include direct quotes and paraphrase information for better understanding.

Research ideas to think about…

  • How did John Steinbeck's personal experiences and observations during the Great Depression influence The Grapes of Wrath?
  • What real-life events inspired John Steinbeck to write about fictional families living through the Great Depression?
  • How did John Steinbeck's political beliefs and ideologies, particularly his sympathy towards labor movements, shape the writing of the novel?
  • Why was there instances of censorship surrounding The Grapes of Wrath?

Research ideas to think about…

  • What happened in 1929 on "Black Tuesday"?
  • What were the key triggers for the widespread bank runs that occurred following the stock market crash?
  • How did the stock market crash and banking crisis affect societal attitudes toward wealth and financial institutions during the Great Depression?
  • What were some of the cultural shifts or changes in consumer behavior that attributed to the economic hardships of the Great Depression?
  • How did the experience of the Great Depression influence the creation of government institutions like the Securities and Exchanged Commission (SEC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)?

Research ideas to think about…

  • How did the Great Depression shape long-term economic policies and institutions?
  • Did the experience of the Great Depression lead to lasting changes in societal attitudes toward economic stability?
  • How did the high levels of unemployment during the Great Depression impact individuals and families on a personal and emotional level?
  • What role did government play to alleviate the hardships of unemployment?
  • How were families impacted by economic hard times?

Research ideas to think about…

  • What were the origins of Hoovervilles, and how did they emerge as a response to the economic challenges of the Great Depression?What
  • What were the living conditions in Hoovervilles compare to agricultural labor camps during the Great Depression?
  • In what ways did Hoovervilles shape public perceptions and attitudes about poverty?
  • How did Hoovervilles residents cope with the challenges they faced? 

Research ideas to think about…

  • What were the main reasons behind the formation of the Bonus Army?
  • How did the economic conditions of the Great Depression contribute to its emergence?
  • What were the demographics of the Bonus Army, and how did the composition of the group reflect the broader social and economic struggles of the Great Depression?
  • How did the Bonus Army organize and execute the march on Washington, D.C. in 1932?
  • What were the key events of the protest in 1932?
  • How did President Hoover initially respond to the presence of the Bonus Army in the nation's capital?
  • How did the Bonus Army's activism contribute to the shaping of subsequent veteran's benefits and policies?

Research ideas to think about…

  • What were the primary environmental factors that contributed to the Dust Bowl?
  • How was agriculture affected by the Dust Bowl?
  • How did the Dust Bowl affect the livelihoods and well-being of farmers in affected regions both socially and economically?
  • How did the migration patterns of families during the Dust Bowl contribute to demographic shifts and changes in rural communities?
  • What ways did government attempt to provide relief to those directly and indirectly impacted by the Dust Bowl?

Research ideas to think about…

  • What is the historical and cultural significance of the term "okie", and how did it become associated with migrant workers during the Great Depression?
  • How did the economic challenges of the Great Depression contribute to the mass migration of individuals and families, particularly from the Dust Bowl region, seeking work and better opportunities?
  • What factors influenced the decision of Okies and other migrants to move to different parts of the country?
  • What were the living and working conditions experienced by Okies and other migrants?
  • To what extent did Okies and migrant workers face discrimination and prejudice in the regions they migrated to during the Great Depression?

Research ideas to think about…

  • Discuss the social and economic significance of FDR's first and second elections.
  • Discuss the significance and result of FDR's third election.
  • How did FDR's perception of government's role in addressing economic challenges differ from his predecessors (Herbert Hoover) during the Great Depression?
  • How did FDR's philosophy about government intervention shape the New Deal policies during the Great Depression?
  • In what ways did FDR's leadership style and communication skills contribute to the successes and challenges of implementing the New Deal?
  • To what extent did the New deal contribute to long-term economic and social change in the United States?

Research ideas to think about…

  • How did FDR's use of radio for fireside chats represent an innovative approach to presidential communication during the 1930s?
  • What were FDR's primary goals in delivering fireside chats, and how did he envision the impact of these broadcasts on public perception and confidence?
  • How did FDR create a sense of connection with the American people through the fireside chats?
  • How were fireside chats received by the American public, and did public opinion and confidence change in response to these broadcasts?
  • To what extent did the fireside chats influence public understanding about New Deal programs, economic recovery, and wartime efforts?

Research ideas to think about…

  • Identify and describe New Deal 1.
  • Identify and describe New Deal 2.
  • How did New Deal programs respond to the economic hardships during the Great Depression?
  • Which social and cultural changes were influenced by the New Deal?
  • What aspects of the New Deal policies that continue to influence economic and social policies?

Research ideas to think about…

  • What were the key motivations behind the establishment of Social Security as part of the New Deal?
  • How did economic challenges of the Great Depression influence the decision to create Social Security?
  • How did Social Security define eligibility criteria, and what segments of the population were initially covered by the program?
  • How has Social Security provided a safety net to help bridge a financial gap?

Research ideas to think about…

  • Provide examples of CCC projects.
  • What were the key motivations behind the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corp as part of the New Deal?
  • What type of projects were undertaken by the CCC, and how did they contribute to natural conservation and infrastructure development?
  • What were the demographic or regional considerations in the selection of CCC projects and participants?
  • In addition to providing employment, how did the CCC offer training and educational opportunities for the members who joined?

Research ideas to think about…

  • Provide examples of WPA projects.
  • What were the key motivations behind the establishment of the Works Progress Administration as part of the New Deal?
  • What type of projects were undertaken by the WPA, and how did its scope differ from other New Deal projects?
  • How did the diverse goals of the WPA (arts, education, infrastructure, etc.) contribute to the success of the New Deal?
  • How did the Federal Arts Project within the WPA contribute to the cultural landscape of the United States?
  • How did the WPA play a role in fostering civic pride and community through the creation and enhancement of pubic spaces, such as parks, libraries, art, and recreational facilities?

Novel Study Guides and Analysis

Read More John Steinbeck at Your Americas Library

In Dubious Battle

This 1936 novel-set in the California apple country-portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.

Cannery Row

The adventures of a group of workers and their families who rely on a California cannery for their livelihood. Followed by Sweet Thursday (1954).

The Pearl

The lives of a poor Mexican pearl fisher and his family change dramatically after he uncovers a fabulous pearl.

Of Mice and Men

A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression   They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

The Red Pony

Raised on a ranch in northern California, Jody is well-schooled in the hard work and demands of a rancher's life. He is used to the way of horses, too; but nothing has prepared him for the special connection he will forge with Gabilan, the hot-tempered pony his father gives him.

Travels with Charley in Search of America

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers. To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light--these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.