2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Steinbeck’s Vision for Society in Cannery Row: A Marxist Approach
Kara M. Bollinger
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Numerous novels by the Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck focus on those underrepresented in society—the thieves, the prostitutes, the mentally retarded, and the migrant workers. This paper examines the link between Steinbeck’s care for social issues and his novels, specifically Cannery Row. In Cannery Row, Steinbeck creates a seemingly utopian society, one in which socioeconomic levels are of no importance in judging someone’s worth, where even those impoverished can live comfortably within the society. This paper will chronicle Steinbeck’s background, examining how his experiences with Marxism and his beliefs about society are apparent in his writing. Employing a Marxist approach, this paper then will examine the characters acting as an example of the proletariat class and their ability to fit into this ideal society, despite their low socioeconomic levels. Through an examination of Cannery Row, this paper will study Steinbeck’s personal concern for the underrepresented and his vision for society.

Keywords: John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, Marxism, society, socioeconomic


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 25-1
Location: OP 2115
Time: 9:45 am

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