Banned or Challenged 20th-Century Classics, Grades 9–12

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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


In 1936, John Steinbeck conducted research on displaced tenant farmers who had moved to California from Arkansas and Oklahoma; in 1937, he toured the Dust Bowl and traveled with migrants on their relentless drive to California. From those experiences he wrote The Grapes of Wrath.

When The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, Steinbeck was praised and harshly criticized for the novel's strong language and sociopolitical implications. It quickly became a best-seller, but it was also banned (and even burned) in some places, including Kern County, California.

Use the discussion topics, research questions, and activities in this literature guide to prepare students to read The Grapes of Wrath. Study questions, writing responses, and extension activities will help students delve deeper into the story. Students will learn about the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and the 1930s in America.

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