John Steinbeck and Whiskey

On this day in 1937,  John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was published.  Two years later, he would win the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath.  Steinbeck was writing Of Mice and Men in the 30’s after Prohibition and before WWI.  The book emphasizes dreams and loneliness in the characters and gives modern readers a snapshot of the American desire for something better.

George is trying to make a better life for himself and Lennie.  They work as migrant field workers with a dream of having their own homestead.  The American condition was tough as the Great Depression hit the country.  There’s a scene in the book where Candy describes the Boss’s son, Curley, as not a bad guy because he gave the workers a gallon of whiskey for Christmas.  Anyone who’s read the book knows that Curley is not a good guy, but we can all appreciate that a gallon of whiskey for Christmas isn’t so bad…People would take what they could get for a bit of relaxed enjoyment during this era.

Whiskey is almost always connected to the average everyday American.  It’s got a firm place in our collective American consciousness as the everyman’s drink. I’ll drink to that!

“The Irish are said to be a happy people, full of jokes.”

“They’re not. They’re a dark people with a gift for suffering way past their deserving. It’s said that without whiskey to soak and soften the world, they’d kill themselves. But they tell jokes because it’s expected of them.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden