Even though Steinbeckplaced the time of the story in the past, but it is possible to detect today’sevents in the novel. As Luche Li points out:” Through his work of fiction andnonfiction, Steinbeck has offered us a broad range of views with which we canreflect on American ethics.” (63) World War I and II leftpeople with severe physical and psychological effects. This pushed them into seekingcalmness more and more. According to Danielle Woods:” Americans built a defensemechanism against the fear of the Cold War and its predicted effects, theyattempted to seek calmness through building and maintaining stable family. OnceWorld War II ended, American men and women were eager to marry.
(3)”. Both menand women played their traditional social roles. There had been a period whenthere were growing needs of economic markets, thus women were significant partof the labor market. But after world wars there had been significant modificationson women’s role in her family and society. Women were supposed to be obedient daughters,wives and devoted mothers.
As Estelle B. Freedman mentions: “The ideology of”true womanhood” was so deeply ingrained and so useful for preserving socialstability in a time of flux that those few women who explicitly rejected itsinequalities could find little support for their views.” (25)So, women’s aim wasmainly finding the right man to marry and develop into a birth giving machine. Womendeveloped a belief that having many children and thus building a large familywas a virtue and a source of comfort. As Luce Irigaray in her article “Thebodily encounter with the mother” remarks: “The maternal function underpins thesocial order and the order of desire, but it is always kept in a dimension ofneed. Where desire is concerned, especially in its religious dimension, therole of maternal–feminine power is often nullified in the satisfying ofindividual and collective needs.
Desire for her, her desire, that is what isforbidden by the law of the father, of all fathers: fathers of families,fathers of nations, religious fathers, professor–fathers, doctor–fathers,lover– fathers, etc”. (414)After wars, the society encouragedhaving more children who promise a brighter future. So, women’s mostsignificant role is to give birth and be dependent upon their husbands. Womenwho tried to seek independence and work, were seen unsuitable as wives andmothers.
As a response to thiscondition, Women’s movements in 1960s that were known as Second-wave feminismin the United States emerged. This time was very sensitive and determinant inthe implementation of the feminist main principles that its roots lied in themain attitudes in patriarchal society in the past. According to The CambridgeHistory of Literary Criticism: “On the political front, the sixties were aradical period. Many women were active in socialist movements but found thattheir claims were openly disregarded and that they were washing the disheswhile their male colleagues were discussing radical politics.
Being pressurisedto return to a type of femininity, which serviced male interests, after theyhad held responsible positions during the war and feeling disappointed by leftistpolitics, women felt that they had to join forces. As an attempt to counteractage-old strategies of silencing female interests, women’s groups began tospring up in the sixties and seventies.”(197