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The Grapes of Wrath


John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath has left much
specifically untold about the authors true intentions on
this book. His epic chronicle has been described as being
"Written with passionate conviction" (Dorothy Parker). This
passionate conviction has led John Steinbeck into mastering
bold dramatization. His skills at the art of dramatization
in literature was not solely used in The Grapes of Wrath,
but also used in another of his twisted and possibly
controversial works called Of Mice and Men. One of John
Steinbeck's main and possibly most obvious themes, is the
hostility and frequent hatred between the migrant workers
and the already socially and financially established
Californians. There are many examples in the book that show
not only that Steinbeck thought that it was an issue to be
concerned with, but also it showed his thoughts and
feelings towards the subject. Three examples of this theme
are shown during encounters with other people that have
already been there, in the corollary chap Along the way to
California the Joad's encountered other people that had
already been to California and were now returning. These
people, like the ragged man with the sunburned face from
the road-side camp described on page 242. He had had
children that died because wages were too low and work was
too scarce to afford food for his children and wife. His
story was one of pain and despair, also his story showed
the cruelty and inhumane treatment which the California
land owners displayed towards the migrant workers. This
grim story of the broken man didn't discourage the Joad's
from parting from the set course. Later on inside the
Californian border the Joads stop by a river. Tom and his
Father find a spot to go swimming where they are promptly
joined on page 263 by two men, a man and his son, who asked
if they may also partake in swimming with Tom and his
Father. The men start talking and it turns out that the
other two men have just come from California. They tell a
story not extremely unlike the other story which the man at
the road-side camp described. Their story describes the
conditions as very uncomfortable. Subsequently the Joads
paid no head to this warning either. Hence, they traveled
on, only to meet up with (on page 274) a very dispassionate
police officer. This gave the Joads a first hand sip of the
general mood that Californians had for these migrant
workers. The policeman treated the migrants with little or
no respect, seemed to just as soon see them drop off the
face of the earth than see them come into California. The
Corollary chapter Nineteen deals with the history of
California. How it was settled by the feverish Americans.
Through these descriptions we can start to understand the
Californians view on why they dislike the migrant workers
with such conviction. The chapter describes the initial
owners of the land, the Mexicans, as being "weak and fed".
This description would suggest that the Mexican's were well
fed and content to live freely on the land with little
desire to need more. Thus they were in little position to
try and stop the onslaught of American's who wanted the
land much more than the Mexicans did, and were too weak to
stop them from doing so. This lead to the turning over of
the land to the American's in the California region. This
same land was kept by the same families and worked with
much success. So much success that they needed to work only
part of it to stay leisurably comfortable, financially.
Therefore the burning desire for the land diminished. This
is where the migrant workers come in. The Californians view
of the workers are very much the same as the Mexican's must
have thought of the Californians when there land was taken
over. Consequently the Californians, being afraid that
history might repeat itself and the workers may take over
the land, the Californians tried to discourage the growth
in population of migrant workers as much as possible. Any
way that they could, legal or not. The killing of Jim Casy
is an example of the cruel behavior of the Californians.
They killed Jim Casy because he was a leader. Not just any
leader, but a leader that wanted justice and decency for
migrant workers. He stood up for the people because their
wages were being cut in half. They were being cut so
harshly that you couldn't even eat off the money that you
got in a day, much less feed any part of your family. Jim
Casy stood up for the integrity of the workers and for that
reason, was killed. John Steinbeck shed a dim light on the
attitudes that make up prejudices and hatreds of the world.
This light is showing us that if we could get along with
one another without attitudes that make us hate or want to
harm other people only because of certain unchangeable
circumstances, than we can finally truely began to have an
understanding of what it's like to live in a world with
peace and understanding towards our fellow human. The Joads
weren't trying to cause trouble and turmoil within the
landowners of California. They were simply trying to look
for a better future. It is, the American dream. 


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