Pauline Hopkins quote about the effects of surroundings on one's character could not be any more true. The setting of one's life almost entirely influences that same persons direction in life. It is for that reason that all authors carefully consider the setting in which they write their novels in because they know of its importance to their characters. One example of an important surrounding affecting the characters is in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath. The novel follows the strife's of the Joad family. Steinbeck chose rural Oklahoma in the 1930's as his seeting for this novel to present adversity to the Joads in two forms. The Joads geographical and cultural surroundings present them with the conflict in the novel.
The Joads geographical surroundings create the first cause of conflict in the novel, serving as its inciting incident. The Joads are a long time farming family, but are forced to abandon this way of life. The land they lived off has dried up and is nothing but dust, Known as the Great Dust Bowl to historians. Unable to live of the land anymore, this forces the Joads to leave their home in search of a better future and is the first in their long list of struggles. Steinbeck use the setting of the Great Dust Bowl in Oklahoma to create conflict for the main characters , but it also helps him show some of the struggles people fought against during the depression. The Joads geographical surroundings serve the dual purpose of creating conflict for the character and illuminating Steinbeck's message.
The Joads faced many difficulties due to their cultural surroundings as well. During the 1930's, finding a job and a way to earn money was extremely hard. The Joads had to fight alongside other desperate people just to survive, and during the time, the culture wasn't to help other, but help yourself. The Joads also had to deal with the animosity people held for people from Oklahoma that had come to take their jobs during that time, creating yet another cultural challenge for them. The setting Steinbeck chose for his novel accomplish, just as before, two things. The cultural surroundings the Joads live in create conflict as well as demonstrate Steinbeck's message.
They are many ways an author can affect and challenge their characters life or traits. One of the more prominet ways is the characters surroundings. The setting they chose is always a key role in the story. A perfect example of this is Steinbeck's choice of Oklahoma during the 1930's for his novel The Grapes of Wrath. The geographical and cultural surroundings he place the Joads in serve their dual propose brilliantly. Not only do they create conflict in the story, but they also highlight many of the challenges common people faced during this hard time.