Grapes of Wrath
“If a young man is about to commence in the world ... we say to him publicly and privately, go to the West. There, your capacities are sure to be appreciated and your industry and energy rewarded.", were the words of the former lead editor of the New York Tribune Horace Greely, regarding the necessity of expansion of the United States of America to the Western coast. Beginning with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 during the Democratic Jefferson Era, the concept of America’s right to reach the western coast became more obvious than ever during the nineteenth century. During the 1830’s as well as the 1840’s these “god given” rights were introduced to a concept known as “Manifest Destiny”. Many expeditions and annexations of states in the far west soon gave all Americans throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the idea that the West was a symbol of equal opportunities for all, both economically and socially. However, these perceptions were only materialistic hogwash and in fact resulted in the exact opposite. Corporate systems and discrimination ultimately defined the West during these times, and weren’t able to be known to the individuals out back East. These unlawful lands were open to the opinion of the writer, thus resulting in works that helped to speak out against the corrupt “utopia” of the West. One of the most famous works to help unfold the diabolical actions done in this territory was the American Classic novel, Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck.
The idea of going west had been a central part of the American consciousness for a long time, however, Steinbeck was able to take this stream of consciousness and beat it with an iron fist by making the journey west one of the central themes of the novel. Before the Joads make the journey to California, Steinbeck foreshadows the unknown, uncharted territory the Joads are about to enter, saying, "Only the unbalanced sky showed the approach of dawn, no horizon to the...
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