Narrator Andy Kershaw explores what life was like for 1920s migrant workers and the autobiographical nature of John Steinbeck's novel. Rolling Californian landscapes and acoustic country music accompany a reading from the opening of the novel. 'The Golden State' is summarised as a place where fortunes are made and where the American Dream can come true to encapsulate the spirit of the novel and the naivety of its protagonists. A summary of the isolating nature of migrant work and an insight into life in America in the 1920s is given. We hear factual evidence about the life of John Steinbeck and the autobiographical nature of the novel, including a statement from Dr Susan Shillinglaw from the Center for Steinbeck Studies. The novel's title, origins, and how it summarises the hopelessness of man's situation are examined.
Can be used to show students how to incorporate comments about historical context into their analyses of texts. Using chapter one of the novel, or an extract from it, students can annotate for details about the setting, George and Lennie and their situation. Students should pay particular attention to details which convey a sense of hardship or isolation. Then students can watch the clip and make further notes on these themes. These notes are then added to the already annotated text. Finally, students put this into writing, but maintaining that analysis of the text needs to come first and their knowledge about its historicity, after.