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Ain't Got No HomeAmerica's Great Migrations and the Making of an Interracial Left$
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Erin Royston Battat

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781469614021

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469614021.001.0001

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An Okie is Me

An Okie is Me

(p.41) Chapter 2 An Okie is Me
Ain't Got No Home

Erin Royston Battat

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Sanora Babb's dust bowl novel Whose Names Are Unknown, which was written in the late 1930s but remained itself “unknown” until it was belatedly published in 2004. Editors at Random House revoked Babb's contract after the publication of The Grapes of Wrath in fear that the literary market could not sustain two books on the same subject. This decision deprived readers of a unique perspective on the Depression era's best-known migration. Whereas Steinbeck's novel erases workers of color and expresses a conservative gender ideology, Babb narrates the dust bowl migration from a woman's point of view and imagines interracial alliances among white, Filipino, and African American workers. The chapter argues that she uses a regionalist form to express the daily routines, sense of place, and populist politics of her dust bowl characters, which translates to gender-inclusive interracial unionism in the California context.

Keywords:   Sanora Babb, dust bowl Depression, migration, interracial alliances

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