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Scene from The Grapes of Wrath

Scene from The Grapes of Wrath

The film The Grapes of Wrath, directed by John Ford and released in 1940, is a snapshot of the Great Depression in America and a classic that relates history to the people who lived it. Based on John Steinbeck’s book of the same title, published in 1939, the movie is a tale intended for any and all kinds of audiences. Discussion on the Dust Bowl Era, in which the movie is based, is almost inseparable from the fictional narrative that John Ford brought to life from Steinbeck’s already vivid tale.

As vital as this story has become to 1930s American history, it does jump the gun in terms of depicting the times accurately. Of course, due to its closeness to the time on which it is based, the premise and world is easily represented. But the people, the Dust Bowl refugees, did not feel as though they were really a part of the story this movie tells. Explore this site to learn more about the real historical value of the Dust Bowl, the original story behind the film, the movie’s ability to show its time as both a primary and secondary source, and its significance in relation to today.

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This site is dedicated to completing a project for HIST 329: U.S. History in Film at the University of Mary Washington. It will focus on the film The Grapes of Wrath in terms of its historical and cultural significance.

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Created by Lindsey McCuistion.

“I hereby declare upon my word of honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work.”