Influences of Literature in California


Emily Saarloos, Staff Writer

Works of literature, whether we are aware of it or not, have shaped our society to what it is today. Literature influences people in a way that many other things can’t. As one starts to understand a character they can begin to put themselves in a different set of shoes, which causes a person to learn about themselves. Here in California, some of the most thought provoking writers have emerged including John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, and Mark Twain. These writers have influenced our society and shared what life is like here in Northern California to the world. 

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, 1902. His very first novel was Cup Of Gold published in 1929 however he didn’t catch a big break until 1935 when his first “Popular novel” Tortilla Flat was published. Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice And Men along with Grapes of Wrath, was influenced by the farming area of Salinas valley since Steinbeck was so familiar with the area. The characters of these books taught empathy with George and Lenny, independence from Tom Joad, and responsibility from Danny. With these influences of character in literature Stienbeck’s writing is definitely monumental enough to shape a society of readers. 

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California in 1874. Frosts’ parents were writers with his father being a journalist and his mother being a poet he was majorly influenced by them. He claims that his adolescent years shaped him tremendously with his father passing away and also the lifestyle in San Francisco influenced his writings. Robert Frost began writing poetry at the ripe age of 15. Some of his most popular poems include, The Road Not Taken, Nothing Gold Can Stay, and Acquainted With The Night. 

Mark Twain was born in 1935 while he wasn’t born in California he resided in Calaveras country in his mature years. Mark Twain’s novel The Jumping Frog written in Angels Camp where the town annually celebrates this novel’s success with a Frog Jump. Many lessons can be learned by Twain’s numerous novels, especially Tom Sawyer and The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. These two novels follow young naive boys and while sometimes with them narrating the view of the world in which they see it can be unreliable, it allows the reader to understand a more elementary thought process and learn certain lessons from a perspective in which they may not have in a non-literary life. 

These authors have shaped many lives in their writings and have taught people who know nothing about Northern California its way of life. Each gained major influence from the Northern California area and left a major impact in return.