Analysis Of John Steinbeck's Grapes Of Wrath

Topics: Great Depression, John Steinbeck, Dust Bowl Pages: 6 (1389 words) Published: September 17, 2015


Over the course of a student’s life under the American education system, they will read at least two books by California writer and possible communist, John Steinbeck. The longer, sadder, and more proletarian book, Grapes of Wrath, tells the tale of the great migration of Midwestern farmers traveling to California during the 1930s. Grapes of Wrath was not Steinbeck’s first venture into the tragedies that faced migrant farmers once they reached California. He had previously composed an article titled Starvation Under the Orange Trees in 1938 which detailed the hardships that migrant farmers faces in California. Steinbeck uses these two works to describe the atrocities that migrants’ faces and place blame on landowners and corporations and declare...

The author of the Myth of the Okies starts off by refuting Steinbeck’s statement “And the dispossessed, the migrants, flowed into California, two hundred and fifty thousand, and three hundred thousand” (233), stating that only 90,000 people moved to California during the 1930s. Windschuttle does concede that Americans were journeying from Oklahoma to California, but they had been doing so for 20 years, and between 1935 and 1940 only 20,000 farmers moved to the San Joaquin Valley. He also points out that most of the migrants who moved to California came from cities and only 36% were farmers. Additionally, it is brought up that even during 1937, the worst year of homelessness in California during this time period, only 3,800 migrant families lived in “squatter villages” similar to those that the Joads inhabited. According to Windschuttle’s article, the biggest migration occurred after the novel takes place, during the post-World War II economic boom in the 1940s. These statistics alone undermine Steinbeck’s claims, but this was not the only exaggerated assertion in Grapes of Wrath. While Grapes of Wrath expresses on multiple occasions of the worker’s wages getting cut lower and lower until the workers had no hope of owning land, California had a generous relief system for the middle of the Great Depression. The system gave $40 a month for a family of four, about four times as much as those same families would have received in the southwest. Myth of the Okies also discusses the wages for cotton picking, which were approximately twenty to fifty percent higher than salaries in the southwest. Windschuttle solidifies his dismissal of Grapes of Wrath by revealing the reason why the workers left their homes for California, more chief than the drought or banks. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 forced landlords to reduce...
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