Collectivism Vs Individualism in the American Farmers Protest During the Thirties. In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937).
Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-Ouzou
Our aim through this memoire is to study the two philosophies of Collectivism and individualism in the light of John Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937) in order to shed light on the conflict between the two opposing philosophies in the period of the 1930s. In fact, due to the effects of the Great Depression (1929) and the Dust Bowl (1935) in the United States of America, American farmers faced difficult moments. To overcome their plight, they found no solution (means) than acting and protesting collectively believing that collectivism was the only way to stop the abuses of government and the greediness of businessmen at that time. Within the collective bodies, they formed each one of them looked for his/her self-interests in the actions they organized. This proves that despite their collectivity, the spirit of individualism they lived for so many years was still engraved in their minds. The clash between the two philosophies of collectivism and individualism is well illustrated in John Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937) which reflect well the misfortune and despair of the American farmers who tried by all the means necessary; including the creation of organizations so that to establish unions and agreements to put an end to economic and social problems, such as unemployment, homelessness and famine. So, this memoire identifies how characters in both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men acted collectively but at the same time looked for their self-interests. To reach our purpose, we rely on Jean Jacques Rousseau’s theory of collectivism mentioned and discussed in The Social Contract (1762) and Alexis DeTocqueville’s theory of individualism mentioned and discussed in Democracy in America (1835).