Student Activities for Grapes of Wrath
Essential Questions for The Grapes of Wrath
- What is the American Dream, and how has it changed over the last century?
- Why is it important to hold onto hope in the face of tragedy?
- When can family provide strength and comfort?
- How can a person stand up to social injustice?
- Why is it important for people to earn a fair living wage?
- What does this novel say about being an American, even in dark times?
Comparing The Great Depression and the 2008 Recession
The Great Depression
|Unemployment Rate 25%
||Unemployment Rate 10%|
20% of people are underemployed
|Governmental monetary stimulus took 19 months to reflect in the stock market
||Governmental monetary stimulus took 10 months to reflect in stock market|
|People waited in bread lines; depended on government to survive day-to-day
||One in six people ended up on governmental assistance|
|Banks collapsed, losing $140 billion in depositors’ money; over 9,000 banks failed
||Between GDP loss and loss of household wealth, estimates are around $12.8 trillion dollars lost; 57 banks failed
The Dust Bowl
Right in the middle of the Great Depression came one of the worst droughts America had ever seen. For several years (from about 1934-1940), 150,000 square miles of America’s heartland were ravaged by high winds, dry conditions, and poor cultivation practices that led to loose topsoil in which nothing could survive the harsh weather.
- States affected:
- South Dakota
- Between 1933-1940, 2.5-3.5 million people fled the Great Plains regions affected by the Dust Bowl.
- It is estimated that 200,000-250,000 people migrated to California, with many settling into the San Joaquin Valley.
While reading The Grapes of Wrath, have students compare and contrast the Joads’ story with that of the immigration crisis out of Syria into Europe.
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