Marxism in the Grapes of Wrath

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In The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Steinbeck uses Marxist ideals to plot the long struggle experienced by the Joad family. The Joads’ experiences prove that the Bourgeoise abuse their power in order to control the Proletariats, alienating and exploiting their class to prevent revolution by forcing them to work for barely enough money.

Families who had lived and worked on their land their whole lives became workless as the bank repossessed homes to sustain profit. The bank had become a “monster” led by the Bourgeoise to exploit the families for their houses and jobs, leaving them with almost nothing. People were often forced to work with this monster in order to feed their own families, it was known for “making people do what it wants” (Steinbeck 34), despite who would be hurt in the process. This was a tool used to prevent the Proletariats from forming a union, because the “bank isn’t like a man” (Steinbeck 33) and there was no person to punish for doing them wrong. Pushed off of their land, the families moved west where they were promised work and an easier life in return for having to give up their homes.

The Bourgeoise’s promises fell short as more and more families migrated west, minimizing the number of jobs and money available. Their pay was repeatedly cut, reducing it to too little to feed their families. Outside of working, the workers were kept from each

other in order to prevent unity, the first step to a rebellion. This need to control stemmed from the Bourgeoise’s extreme greed to keep their power and their money by taking away anybody else’s.

A divided nation is easier to control then one united. To avoid the consequences of unity, the police would “make them fear, hate, suspect each other” (Steinbeck 151). This growth of alienation among the lower class was the Bourgeoise’s tool of exploitation to avoid rebellion against those of higher social status. The laws in the area were bias and only in place to benefit the Bourgeoise. If...
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