The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The book The Grapes of Wrath is focused on the time period of The Great Depression and was published in 1939. The Great Depression was a time of poverty in the United States caused by a decline in farm prices and the crash. During the Great Depression most families had no one working, on some occasions one person was lucky enough to have a job. The one person with the job had the responsibility of providing food for the rest of the family on an extremely low budget. The migrants in The Grapes of Wrath or from a region referred to as the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl suffered because of farm price droppings and this caused owners to fire workers. The workers were forced to migrate down to California in hopes of finding a job along with all the other thousand workers searching for a job. During this time California’s population grew by 20% because of all the migrant workers who arrived searching for work. John Steinbeck’s writing focus a lot on California agriculture and it is shown within this book. John Steinbeck was trying to reach the people who give up when situations get tough. Many families went through harsh moments on the way to California, but they always continued on their journey. Steinbeck wanted to present the struggle migrants went through to just try and survive. He also had hopes that someone would hear him and help improve the conditions of Migrant Work camps. Steinbeck’s message was to join together through harsh times and situations will become easier to handle other than trying to do it individually. When the Joads were on their way to California they ran into the Wilsons who had car problems and would have never had a chance to make to California. Luckily the Joads allowed them to join them in the rusty old truck. When Tom describes prison that he was feed, given shelter, and clothes he told Casy it was a good place. This hints to the idea of socialism were everyone is equal and therefore everything will be provided for everyone because everything would be shared just as tom shared his cell with an inmate. Once Tom came out of prison he was treated the same by Casy even if he was a murderer. “One man on…to the monster” (pg. 44) One man is going to be living in glory while there are going to be 20 families starving. Instead of joining together and help the rest of the workers one man decided to take all the work for him. Due to this the rest of the tenant farmers were getting ready for their trip to California. “Sure cried the …numbers on it” (pg. 45) Together the workers were able to protest about the unfair things the bank was doing. Unfortunately they were unable to make a difference it symbolized the unity the workers had when came down to the farm land in The Dust Bowl. `
“Jus’ a little…not quickly broken” (pg. 570-571) Tom begins to realize that it is better to work together rather than being on his own. It took him to be by himself in hiding to begin accepting the teachings Casy was showing him. Tom transformed himself to person who fought for the good of everyone not just himself. “Your folks could…save us both” (pg. 575) by joining together they were able to save themselves money that can be used for food in any other occasion. If they would have gone on their own they would have spent double the money but they shared the price just as in socialism everything is equal both families paid an equal half for gas. When Ma and Rose of Sharon walked into the barn and saw the boy with a dying man they decide to help the man and not think about themselves but think about the man’s health. “Rose of Sharon…and smiled mysteriously.” Even after all she has been through knowing that she is helping a stranger makes her happy because she know realizes what type of success working together brings. One on its own is weak, but when accompanied by partners they are inexorable. The Grapes of Wrath has made many controversies of the years which are why it has been banned several times. Most said that the book supported socialism which I believe it does because he supports that everyone stand together. “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” (pg. 571)
Anne Kenney, Cornell Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. "Dustbowl." n.d. cornell university. 3 2013 . "The Grapes of Wrath." n.d. Shmoop. 2013 .