The Grapes of Wrath Synthesis Essay

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Throughout history, human beings have been incessantly cruel and violent towards each other. It has happened so much so, that some have argued human nature is intrinsically violent and aggressive. This can be seen in chapter 25 of The Grapes of Wrath: the mindless destruction of resources ultimately amounts to nothing productive. In his novel, Steinbeck expresses harsh criticism and disapproval toward humanity’s self-destructive and violent nature.

Man’s cruelty to his fellow man, a major theme in the book, is very clearly addressed in chapter 25: “And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.”(476) In this passage, Steinbeck gives an obvious example of unnecessary cruelty. The men could not profit from the oranges so they go out of their way to burn the oranges, even though there are thousands of starving people, desperate for any food. Steinbeck continues to list other blatantly cruel acts, as seen on page 477, “Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.” This passage was written in a sad and disgusted tone, which reveals Steinbeck’s disapproval toward our detrimental nature.

However, in contrast to my original statement, Steinbeck does not have a completely cynical view towards humanity, as we see through the series of events in chapter 15. He recognizes our redeeming qualities, such as charitableness, and rewards it. We are introduced to a poor, starving migrant family who manage to find a rest stop. Mae, the waitress is somewhat annoyed at first, but eventually sells the man bread and candy at an exceptionally low price when she realizes the...
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