Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finding the Lost Generation: Steinbeck Still Lives Here

When you live somewhere and leave, you leave a piece of yourself behind that never really goes away. Others have moved in and out of this house, but it is on some level, still Steinbeck's house. In his book Cannery Row, Steinbeck wrote, "It is the hour of the pearl - the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself." When Fall comes to California, it is the season of the pearl. This past weekend, a mid-September afternoon laid itself softly on the West Coast near the Santa Cruz Mountains, and leaves turned red over the crawling vines in front of Steinbeck's house in Monte Sereno, California. I stood there for a moment realizing that the dust on my feet was the same dust that was once on his own feet. John Steinbeck is one of the great writers of the Lost Generation. This is the house where he lived when he wrote Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

It is one thing to write beautiful words, it is another to use those words for social justice. From Steinbeck's time until now, those that don't suffer need to be reminded that there are those that do. And something about the soft light in the trees and shadows on his driveway make it seem like he is peering over the fence from the other side, not only at this driveway, but at these modern times. As the cycles of history go, we are once again in an era similar to his as war creates refugees and environmental disasters leave people homeless, forcing them to live as migrant workers to survive. There are people now, today, who live identically to the characters in Steinbeck's writing - living on the road, going hungry far too often, looking desperately for work for the day, and shelter for the night.

Steinbeck felt that many trips continue long after movement in time and space has ceased. I believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the human soul does, too. And so does the legacy of a generation. We should try and give all that we can to those who are in the apex of crisis. And afterward, we should try to give for as long as we can to those whose lives are forever changed by a crisis....

(c) 2017 writing and photos by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

An article that connects the struggle of the last Lost Generation to these modern times:
The Depictions of Poverty in Steinbeck's writing are timeless...