John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. Though he was wealthy, he spent time on farms to see how other people lived during the time of the Wall Street Crash and the Depression. On October 29 1929, millions of dollars were wiped out in an event that became known as the Wall Street Crash. It led to the Depression in America which crippled the country from 1930 - 1936. People lost their life savings when firms and banks went bust, and 12 - 15 million men and women - one third of America's population - were unemployed.
Because no one was prepared for this, they had nothing to fall back on. Many people lived in slums in the Californian Valley, making their houses up of cardboard and corrugated iron. Ranch Hands were grateful, though the pay was low, they atleast had a place to stay and food was provided for them.