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Encyclopedia > The Winter of Our Discontent
The Winter of Our Discontent
First edition "The Winter of Our Discontent" book cover
First edition cover
Author John Steinbeck
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher The Viking Press
Released 1961
Media Type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

The Winter of Our Discontent is a 1961 novel by John Steinbeck. Image File history File links Johnsteinbeck_TheWinterOfOurDiscontent. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative in prose. ... Viking Press was founded on March 1, 1925, in New York City, by Harold K. Guinzburg and George S. Oppenheim. ... A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) book is bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth or heavy paper) and a stitched spine. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative in prose. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Plot introduction

The story is about a Long Islander named Ethan Allen Hawley who works as a clerk in a grocery store he used to own, but is now owned by an Italian immigrant. His wife and kids want more than what he can give them because of his lowly clerkship. Mercator projection of Long Island Long Island is an island in New York, USA. It has an area of 1,377 square miles (3567 km²) and a population of 7. ... Although human migration has existed for hundreds of thousands of years, immigration in the modern sense refers to movement of people from one nation-state to another, where they are not citizens. ...

Explanation of the novel's title

The title is a reference to the phrase "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York," from William Shakespeare's Richard III. Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Frontispage of the First Quarto Richard The Third. ...

Plot summary

He finds out that the immigrant that owns his store is an illegal alien, turns him into the Immigration and Naturalization Service and receives the store by deceiving the immigrant. Ethan continues to have feelings of depression and anxiety brought about by his uneasy relationship with his wife and kids, risky flirtation with Margie Young-Hunt, and consideration of a bank robbery scheme. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was a part of the United States Department of Justice and handled legal and illegal immigration and naturalization. ...

The story resolves when Ethan gives the town drunk/bum enough money to get so incredibly intoxicated as to die shortly thereafter of acute alcohol poisoning; due to an arrangement made with the drunk prior to his death, Ethan then becomes a "somebody" in the town by inheriting a large, valuable tract of land needed by local businessmen to build an airport. This puts him post-story in the position of being able to get in on and even manipulate and control the behind-the-scenes dealings of the corrupt town businessmen and politicians. (Somehow Ethan assuages his guilt, having known fully well beforehand what the drunk would do with the money, apparently by telling himself that dying is what, in fact, the drunk/bum really wanted.) No longer will he or his family want for anything. Contrary to what one might think, Ethan is not satisfied with his newfound financial success. His family is not immune to problems either; his son won a nationwide essay contest entitled 'I Love America' and earns fame until it is known that he plagiarized almost all of his essay. Ethan contemplates suicide, but does not go through with it lest "another light go out," a reference to his daughter Ellen who is portrayed as a mirror image of Allen.

Characters in "The Winter of Our Discontent"

  • Ethan Hawley – a grocery clerk (the story's protagonist)
  • Mary Hawley – his wife
  • Allen and Ellen Hawley – his adolescent children
  • Danny Taylor – Ethan's childhood friend and town drunk
  • Joey Morphy – bank teller and town playboy
  • Margie Young-Hunt – middle-aged seductress
  • Mr. Baker – town accountant
  • Marullo – Italian immigrant owner of grocery store
Recent paperback cover for The Winter of Our Discontent
Recent paperback cover for The Winter of Our Discontent

Image File history File links Winter of Our Discontent book cover This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by the publisher of the book. ... Image File history File links Winter of Our Discontent book cover This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by the publisher of the book. ...

Literary significance & criticism

Literary critics have dealt with The Winter of Our Discontent in a variety of ways; some have praised it as a Steinbeck classic while others have called the book a disappointing work. Some critics claim that the regular and somewhat sloppily constructed soliloquies of Ethan Hawley illustrate a lack of style. Throughout the book, Steinbeck tends to overtly tell the reader what characters are thinking rather than allowing the plot and structure of the novel to reveal their thoughts. In various letters to friends before and after the publication of Winter, Steinbeck clearly states he wrote the novel to address the moral degeneration of American culture in the 1960s. Literary critics and scholars have condemned Winter for its poorly concealed moral emphasis, citing that the novel lacks the stylistic integrity of previous Steinbeck works. This article very generally discusses the customs and culture of the United States; for the culture of the United States, see arts and entertainment in the United States. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ...

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The novel was made into a television movie in 1983, starring Donald Sutherland as Ethan Hawley. The Winter of Our Discontent is a 1983 made-for-TV movie based on the novel by John Steinbeck. ... 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Donald McNicol Sutherland OC (born July 17, 1935) is a prolific Canadian actor with a film career spanning over 40 years. ...

  Results from FactBites:
George Sand: Her Majorcan Winter of Discontent LiteraryTraveler.com (341 words)
Her ill-fated stay there, which later became the subject of her book Winter in Majorca, was to have deleterious and far-reaching consequences for both the novelist and her famous companion, composer Fredric Chopin.
Most pleasing of all was my discovery that the Majorcan winter, far from being the bleak, damp affair experienced by Sand, routinely brings daytime temperatures requiring nary a sweater, along with a seemingly omnipresent sun (indeed, the island claims an average of 300 days of sunshine annually).
"Our journey," wrote the author to her friend Carlotta Marliani, "seems to begin under the most favorable conditions." Embarking from Barcelona on November 7th, 1838, for the overnight passage aboard the "El Mallorqn" ferry, they could not have imagined they'd be making the reverse trip under dire circumstances just 98 days later.
“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer…”: Where is the promised mass action? - ... (2448 words)
His speech outlined the right that the people of Zimbabwe have to mass action, where they are entitled to express themselves and to share their views on the way they are governed, and that “experience shows that only a sustained and concerted effort by all Zimbabweans shall deliver a desired result”.
In summary, our experience shows us that while we managed to shake the regime with action in March 2003 and in June 2003, we did not move sufficiently to cause meaningful democratic change in our society.
The promise that there would be a winter of discontent has often been repeated by National Executive members of the Tsvangirai faction and newspapers and web sites sympathetic to the Tsvangirai faction such as the Zimbabwean newspaper.
  More results at FactBites »



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