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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