The Idea of Post-War America in Selected Novels by John Steinbeck and John Dos Passos

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This dissertation attempts to study the idea of the ‘Other’ according to John Dos Passos (1896-1970) and John Steinbeck (1902-1968). We have analyzed the position of the two authors towards major post-war issues. Throughout our thesis, we have referred to the numerous social, racial, gender, political, and economic issues that arose as a result of the aftermath of the First World War. Our appropriation of the New Historicist theory has enabled us to make a historical and literary diagnosis of John Dos Passos’s case and John Steinbeck’s fiction. We have endeavored to demonstrate that both Dos Passos and John Steinbeck share the same idea, position, and vision towards a fragmented, class-based, ‘white supremacist’ and capitalist post-war America. To reach our objective, we have selected some ‘target’ novels that will be decisive throughout our analysis. These novels are Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat (1935), Of Mice and Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and John Dos Passos’ trilogy U.S.A (1938). The study of Of Mice and Men and Dos Passos’ U.S.A is investigated from the perspective of racial discrimination and gender issues. Indeed, the Hispanic community of Tortilla Flat, the unique black character of the novella Of Mice and Men ‘Crooks’ ,and the two Italian Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti experience the same hatred, racism, and discrimination. In addition, we investigated women status within post-war American society. This study also explores another post-war theme,i.e, the struggle proletariat vs. big business, this proletariat theme is an influential part of Dos Passos’ trilogy U.S.A and Steinbeck’s epic novel The Grapes of Wrath. Our ‘proletariat’ reading attempts to demonstrate that the two authors share the idea that post-war America is composed of twonations; one of them belongs to the rich and privileged and the other one to the have-not and the powerless