Argue for or against the following assertion:
“‘Who do we shoot?’ That sentiment – expressed unforgettably in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of
Wrath* – captures the crucial mood of the Great Depression: discontent and revolutionary ferment
represented a clear and present danger to the laissez-faire political and economic order that had
built John D. Rockefeller’s and Upton Sinclair’s America.
But the answer to the question was also telling: shooting people would accomplish little or
nothing of lasting value. As Steinbeck emphasized, the problem lay with the system, not
individuals. For better or worse, the New Deal should be understood as a much-needed and
sincere effort by the American people to fix their system.”
*Film excerpt to be viewed in class (11/1). Link also distributed by email.
You must incorporate evidence presented in class, readings, and films. You must cite multiple
times Sinclair, Gunther, Kennedy, and Cohen, as well as the Ascent of Money, The
Prize (ep. 4), The March of the Bonus Army, and The Crash of 1929, Henry Ford, and Grapes
of Wrath films.