Grapes of Wrath Final Essay
In John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath he succeeds in capturing the suffering and turmoil surrounding farm owners, families, and migrant workers during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The way in which Steinbeck captures the struggle of the Joad family and many others as they make their way to the “Eden” of California gives excellent insight into the American socioeconomic condition in the 1930s. In many ways I believe that Steinbeck is condemning, not necessarily America as a whole, but rather the dehumanizing effect of a Laissez-Faire capitalistic ideology, while praising the American idea of hard work, independence, and sacrifice. In the novel we see countless examples of Steinbeck’s distaste for any and all institutions responsible for the suffering of “the common man”. He uses his book as a way to pin the blame on the major banks and companies that pushed famers off of their family’s lands. As though the bank or the company were a monster, with thought and feeling … these last envoys would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and monsters all at the same time. (36) This quote is an excellent example of how Steinbeck’s own judgments are laced throughout the book, also in this way we see his subtle condemnation of the banks or “machines” that were tearing the country apart. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck lays out many examples in which farms are destroyed and families are torn apart under the weight of a system that no one really controls any longer. We truly see his disapproval in the end of the novel when the Joads escape a massive flood. This was his way of portraying the Great Depression as a failure of New Era Capitalism, and this flood was symbolic of a divine reckoning; that those who survived the depression and the Dust Bowl should then come together and establish a society that is more exemplary of democracy....
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