This article seeks to understand how in his later works, John Steinbeck came to see America as a “discontented land.” It explores the discontents of form and tone in his last book-length work, America and Americans, arguing that Steinbeck's discontent is the result of his synecdochical reading of the nation—seeing the part for the whole—and his insistence that national paradoxes and problems are the “manifestations of one single cause.” Steinbeck's discontent seems as much of a rhetorical issue—the discontents that come with synecdochical thinking—as it is a narrative issue—the discontented nation that is produced by such rhetoric.

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