Chapter 5 is very important in creating the overall effect of the Grapes of Wrath. In this chapter, the tenant owners force the tenants to move out of the house because the land is not producing enough profits. Steinbeck, the author, describes the tenant children as “corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of another, and toes working.” The tenant owners have hired local people, neighbors, and friends to tractor off the family. These hired locals are paid extra to tip the houses over with a tractor. This chapter shows how important profits are for the owners and just how unimportant the everyday people are. The owner men blame this on the “workings and the thinking’s of a monster that are stronger than they are.” The bad conditions and lack of crops forced the owners to borrow money from the bank. The banks “breathe profits” and thus tractor the land. It also describes the tractor drivers as changing into machines because of the tractors and their unkind job. They are “gloved, goggled…and part of the monster, a robot in the seat. “The monster…somehow got into the drivers hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him…”
This chapter contributes to the novel because it is a macrocosm. It is a macrocosm of the time period and the amount of destruction and movement of the country. This chapter sets up the reader for the moving of the Joads family. The Joads serve as the microcosm. It also explains how and why the land was tractors off. Not only this, but it shows the banks disinterest in the people they are destroying. With this chapter, Steinbeck shows how much control banks and companies have over the everyday people. Steinbeck uses this chapter to present the cause of the poverty and destruction of the land.
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