Harold Bell Wright, an immensely popular author of the early twentieth century, is best known for his westerns such as The Shepherd of the Hills. His target audience was the working class, those who read for escape before the advent of radio and television. Wright's novel The Winning of Barbara Worth is mentioned in The Grapes of Wrath. The Joads are prime examples of Wright's primary audience. Steinbeck recognized this and the reference to Wright makes this clear. A further examination of Barbara Worth reveals that Steinbeck addresses several similar themes in The Grapes of Wrath. Most apparent is the struggle between the common people and big business or capitalism, along with the importance of the land, and pride in one's heritage. Steinbeck takes the themes Wright used for dramatic tension and reveals how they directly affected the people who read Wright's novels.

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