The Winter of Our Discontent - Activities

1.  The Winter of Our Discontent was written in 1961 and is set in the 1960s.  Steinbeck forms a very negative view of capitalism and wealth in the novel.  Examine the newspapers for a few weeks and see if you can find examples of wealthy and powerful people behaving in an immoral, unethical, or illegal manner.  Ask yourself whether Steinbeck was mistaken in his belief that wealth and capitalism lead to immorality and if his message is applicable today.

2.  Look back at your family tree and at your children (if you have any) and see how the actions of family have developed through the generations.  See if there is one member of your family that you resemble the most. What characteristics do you admire about that person?  Determine if you have those same characteristics.

3.  Read Richard III by William Shakespeare.  The beginning lines of this play are “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York.”  This line is both the title of Steinbeck’s novel and a line sung by Ethan in the story.  Examine the similarities and differences between Ethan and Richard III.