Human affairs and, very often, their miseries are at the center of great world literature. The specialists of the particular not infrequently give voice to the social problems of individuals who do not play a leading role in life. Steinbeck’s proletarian literature tells of the great transformation of the US economy towards the industrialization of agriculture and the exploitation of the proletariat in the not-really-glorious first three decades of the twentieth century. A huge mass of citizens falls into misery and fights a battle for survival and dignity that will end with the New Deal. Steinbeck’s novels give voice to families and workers’ collective struggle, who find the highest form of emotional resistance and material support in the strength of their union. It is also interesting to note that, in the legal sphere, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the aristocratic judge of the US Supreme Court, recognized the clash of the social forces that would have transformed the country already at the beginning of the century. The struggle between capital and labor must preserve the individuals from annihilation, since their effort and dignity are the foundations of the economic system and American democracy. Masses of workers who are heavily wounded in health and autonomy are an obstacle to the moral and social progress of a politically responsible society.
Keywords: [Great Depression - Capitalism - Proletarian fight - Steinbeck - Holmes - New Deal]