In a relatively short novel, Steinbeck is able to raise and discuss important human issues: the importance of friendship, the need for people to take responsibility for others less fortunate than themselves, the tragedy of circumstances interfering with people’s plans for the future, and the insensitivity of some people toward those of different racial background, social status, or intellectual prowess. These social issues are dramatized in a carefully plotted story that keeps the reader’s attention focused on the main characters, building to a violent climax in which the ethics of violent solutions to human problems are called into question

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