Friday, August 20, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath: Selfishness

In Steinbeck's classic, The Grapes of Wrath, selfish actions play a large part of how the story turns out. For instance, many families are full of self-interest members, and that uncaring for others ends up being a major downfall. Because most of the higher class landowners or wealthy people also share these same selfish thoughts, they are what forces many smaller families under the poverty line in the book, like the Joads. However, rising above these selfish surroundings, there is also the Joad family. They know and understand that if their journey is going to be successful in the long-run, they must each make sacrifices for the better of the clan. The Joads become closer to one another in the fashion, sharing both rejoices and downfalls that fellow family members may have. Again with the contradictions, not everyone in this world is bad. For example, in chapter 13, I think it is, there is a gas station attendant who has been overworked or underpaid, I am unsure which, that the Joad family meets at the station. The man is uncertain whether or not to help the family, but he first insults them to start making "real good friends." This would be an example of selfishness and fear in the world, but the next example is of kindness and generosity. Mae, being a waitress at a coffee shop the Joads happen to stumble into, sells bread and sweets to a man and his son for extremely low prices only from the good of her heart. In return, a couple truckers who are on their way out of the same coffee shop leave an extra large tip for the kind and giving lady. See, every story has two side to it. There is one side, and there is the right side. The truckers, obviously, represent the right side. I am glad to know that even Steinbeck, in this case, understands that rule and puts it to good use.


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