November 1, 2012
Changes Along the Road
John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath, shows the audience future changes in America, namely the coming Industrial Revolution, and the conflict between the locals and the Okies. These themes are supported by subplots of desperation, hunger, and the upcoming change in America. These subplots are particularly highlighted and illustrated in chapters 11 and 21.
Steinbeck begins chapter 11 with a metaphor illustrating the coming change in the United States. The Industrial Revolution was coming and Steinbeck used this metaphor to show how machines would change the way the farmers lived their life. Steinbeck used this chapter not only for a picture of their vacant homes but as future inference for the coming times of disconnect between farmers and their land.
“So easy that the wonder goes out of work, so efficient that the wonder goes out of the land and working it, and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation” (115) Farming, to Steinbeck, was not just a way that crops were produced, but a lifestyle. Steinbeck understood that the little things mattered to farmers and their industry. Things like the way that land was worked from generation to generation, the care and dedication that were put into the seasonal turning of the soil, and rotating the crops to make sure the land stayed well. All these things were, for the farmer, not simply for this short benefit, but supported his long term goals. His love for the land caused the land to love him back. Steinbeck understood this relationship between the farmers and the land.
The coming Industrial Revolution would change this relationship between farmers and their land. The way of life for these farmers was changing before their very eyes. The dedication and care that farmers once needed would be swept away. “And in the tractor man there grows the contempt that comes only to a stranger who has little understand and no relation” (115)...