29 of November 2012
This Is Our Land
To human beings, environment is vital. After spending a number of years in one place, it is very human nature to become attached. This is especially true with farmers. They spend their lives learning the land around them. The land becomes a friend to them, having almost human value. In the novel The Grapes of Wrath, author John Steinbeck conveys the connection people have with their land, how big, greedy, corporations take that away, and how family unity provides the strength to overcome the hardships that are set in place by the corporations. All humans think of a home as a place for comfort. They say that home is where you make it, but these farmers did not get that right away. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Oklahoma farmers feel they belong to the land and do not want to leave it. In response to Muley Graves' refusal to leave, Jim Casy says, "' Fella gets use' to a place, its hard to go'"(65). Muley's refusal to leave shows that he is physically and emotionally attached to the land he farmed before his eviction. It is illegal for him to remain on the land; yet, he cannot bring himself to leave his home. The land has become a part of him. Human beings also can become proprietary about their land. They believe that the land belongs to them, and they belong to it. Before the Joad family is finished packing, Grampa decides he does not want to leave. He believes in his heart, "'This country ain't no good, but its my country. No, you all go ahead. I'll jus' stay right here where I b'long'"(143). Grampa knows that it is better if he goes, but he is tied to the land and cannot break himself free. He cannot go on, neither mentally nor physically, away from the land where he feels he belongs.
Grampa physically refuses to leave, and when forced to, his fate is sealed. Even though he talks about the wonderful life he expects to have in California, Grampa cannot mentally abandon the land. Jim Casy notices that after grampa died. "'He was foolin', all the time. I think he knowed it. An' Grampa didn't die tonight. He died the minute you took 'im off the place... He was that place, an' he knowed it'"(187). Similar to Muley Graves, Grampa's mental bond with the land prevents him from being physically able to leave it. Mentally, Grampa is dead by the time the Joad family crosses the Oklahoma border. Physically, he dies soon afterwards. Grampa cannot bear to travel to a new place, even though he pretends to be happy about it. This breaking of his connection to the land forces him to die. In the beginning of the novel we notice the hardships that the Joads have to go through in order to get to California. On the great journey the family joins together as one. The best way it is said is in Chapter 13 “The Family became a unit.”(189) The Joads with the accompaniment of Jim Casey formed a new kind of bond, something that could only be formed if a family had been through absolute hell together. Due to these circumstances their relationships with each other were stronger then ever. For the first time in their lives, they are altogether in the same place working for the same common goal, to be successful in California. As it is also said in this quote by Jim Casy believes that “when they’re all workin together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang-that’s right, that’s holy.”(110) Steinbeck illustrates the unity of the human family, that is also unstoppable and determined. When your with family you feel like you can accomplish anything.
Steinbeck wrote this novel because he wanted to draw attention to what was going on at the time. Steinbeck captures this by showing the end results of big business and the little people it effects. The book starts with nature dealing a swift hand to the land and the people who work the land to survive. Steinbeck tells of dust covering everything like a blanket, smothering the people. The people know that rough times are ahead but they do not know that their lives are going to be drastically changed. As the novel progresses the Joad family has to make decisions that will effect the whole family and their journey to a new land with hopes of making it there. "We got to figger close. It's a sad thing to figger close"(111). When they made the decision to leave their house they had to account for everything that was to be taken with them. When they took their possessions to the scrape yard the man hustled them into taking a low price for their things because Steinbeck wanted to show how greed affected the small businessman as well as the big businesses. The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that communicates the bond humans have for the land they live on, how the corporate bosses take that away, and how family holds that together. This land is almost like a human companion throughout people's lives. When forced to move away, these people lose a part of themselves, and suffer both mentally and physically.