In the Souls of the People

Abby Zimet

Rachel Maddow has won the prestigious John Steinbeck Award, given to writers or artists "whose work captures the spirit of Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of people who by circumstance are pushed to the fringes." Saying his father "would have adored" Maddow, Steinbeck's son Thomas cited his sense of trust in her, the feeling she projects that, "I’m part of an alliance."


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The phrase "In the Souls of the People" comes from Chapter 25 of The Grapes of Wrath.  From the 1930s, Steinbeck consistently wrote with unflinching honesty about the people who were pitied and rejected by others. Americans were his people, regardless of their position in society,

From our beginning, in hindsight at least, our social direction is clear. We have moved to become one people out of many. At intervals, men or groups, through fear of people or the desire to use them, have tried to change our direction, to arrest our growth, or to stampede the Americans. This will happen again and again. We have failed sometimes, taken wrong paths, paused for renewal, filled our bellies and licked our wounds; but we have never slipped back - never.

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