Friday, August 20, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath: Man's Inhumanity

Steinbeck continuosly show me as a reader that absolutely none of the Joads' misfortune is of misfortune or bad luck. Instead, he suggests that this misfortune is brought on by fellow men. Economic sufferings or greatness separate people into true classes. There is the person who wins, and there is another one who loses. There is the person who collects money, and there is another who pays it. There is the person who provides housing, and there is another who lives in it. And unfotunately, much of the higher class person's salary or income is directly from those people in the much lower classes. Because of this situation, it is easy for the lower class to slip into poverty if jobs are not plentiful enough. They are already giving money to others to "help themselves," but they are really only digging themselves a deeper hole to climb out of. Meanwhile, on the high class side of things, these people are also struggling deeply to maintain their own social standings. They have to fight amongst themselves to hold positions of wealth and not let too much of their wealth slip away into someone else's hands. In chapter 19 of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck portrays the state of California as a bunch of no good, power and land hungry jerks who basically stole the land from Mexican people, worked on it for a little while, and claimed it as their own. Fearing a second migrant takeover, the established landowners in California set up a system among themselves to treat the incoming people as little more than animals, taken from one miserable camp to the next and given terribly underpaid wages, forcing them to turn on each other to simply stay alive. In the novel, there is a simple line, drawn in the sand, that divides the population into rich and poor. Steinbeck identifies this line as the biggest source of evil in the world.

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