The Power of Human Greed

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“The Grapes of Wrath”

The Power of Human Greed

Historical and economic circumstances lead to the formation of two main social groups in “The Grapes of Wrath”: landowners and tenants. Those who own land fight to maintain authority and control, while tenants struggle to make ends meet. Existing conditions create hostility between both groups and lead to greater income disparity. Although the worsening situation of the farmers in Steinbeck’s novel results from soil exploitation and disadvantageous weather, one might argue that division into rich and poor inflicts the pain and suffering, not only in the novel but also in the whole world. One of the main themes in “The Grapes of Wrath” is revealing about the relationship between the rich and poor. Steinbeck views wealthy people as “monsters” and the poor as their victims. Throughout the course of novel he emphasizes dangers associated with the division into social classes. The author is extremely concerned about the attitude of the upper class toward the poor and the associated social injustice. The Joad family, as many others at that time, is forced to move to California, because land is over farmed and existing drought prevents them from earning enough to make their living in Oklahoma. The wealthy landowners, concerned only about the money, realize that labor intense farming becomes less profitable than farming supported by the use of machinery and decide to evict farmers by destroying their homes. Told there are plenty of employment opportunities in California, the Joads decide to pack and move there. Their journey is very long, and they face many difficulties.

The lower income class, to which the Joads belong, lacks an appropriate level of education and experience. Rich and educated people are aware of this and many times take advantage, hence the bargaining power is higher for them and they use it to swindle poor farmers. In chapter seven, the car deceives farmers by selling them wrecked trucks for...
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