This map plots the settings and references in The Grapes of Wrath

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Sallisaw, Oklahoma
Sallisaw
Creative Commons AttributionSallisaw - Credit: Doug Wertman

 

Oklahoma is the 20th largest state in the US, and takes its name from the Choctaw words Okla humma, meaning red people.  It's part of the Bible Belt, which explains why religion is a common topic in The Grapes of Wrath. 

 Sallisaw is a city in Sequoyah County. Its name is derived from the French 'salaison', meaning salt provisions, as before the city was founded French hunters had salted bison at Sallisaw Creek.

In the 1930s this agricultural town was hit badly by the Dust Bowl, a period of punishing dust storms.  Most of Oklahoma lies on the Great Plains and Interior Highlands of the US, and so is prone to severe weather.  The extensive droughts and high winds of the 1930s led to an economic collapse which forced many of the farmers and sharecroppers out of the state. Over 20 years, Oklahoma lost 6.9% of its population. 

 

 

After World War Two, Sallisaw enjoyed a population recovery as its industry and retail sectors began to flourish, with mining, manufacturing and auto-industries particularly strong.

Today, the population of Sallisaw is nearly four times its 1930s level.  Industry is still a major source of employment but agriculture remains important.