1 November 2008
Man vs. Man: Darwinism
“If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s a part of him, and it’s like him… But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it—why, then the property is the man (Steinbeck 424).” This quote identifies the thought process of a tenant farmer being evicted from his home, the land he grew up on, in chapter five of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck speaks of the relationships and humanity shown between the bank, landowners, and tenant farmers throughout this chapter. However, Steinbeck’s words can be interpreted to strongly support the tenant farmers, and get the reader to sympathize with the farmers as he hones in on their losses and their feelings. Throughout chapter five of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck presents the malice and inhumanity that greed can instigate by showing how the bigger power, the bank, can cause people to turn against people of a lower strata then themselves in order to get by. Through the viewpoint of the landowner, the tractor driver, and the farmer tenants, Steinbeck is able to get the readers to feel the callousness shown to the farmer tenants and the lack of power held by the landowners and tractor driver. Steinbeck stresses the fact that the economic system victimizes all classes. The farmers’ neighbors are victimized; the tenant farmers are victimized; even the bank employees are victimized by the bigger power that they call the bank. The bank turns upper strata against lower strata and forces people to act inhumanely toward one another. Throughout chapter five Steinbeck refers to the bank as non-human, greedy, and unstoppable. As the landowner states, “If a bank or finance company owned the land, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insists—must have—as if the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had...