Plot[ edit ] The narrative begins just after Tom Joad is paroled from McAlester prisonwhere he had been imprisoned after being convicted of homicide. On his return to his home near Sallisaw, OklahomaTom meets former preacher Jim Casy, whom he remembers from his childhood, and the two travel together. Graves tells them that the banks have evicted all the farmers, but he refuses to leave the area. Tom finds his family loading their remaining possessions into a Hudson Motor Car Company sedan converted to a truck; with their crops destroyed by the Dust Bowlthe family has defaulted on their bank loans, and their farm has been repossessed.
The land gives them an identity, a past and a future. When they lose their land, that identity starts to dissolve. Steinbeck depicts the land as having a soul, and performing manual labor on that land provides a deeper understanding of life.
The farmers derive wisdom from the land; it helps with their thought processes and decision making. This theme has roots in American romanticism, as intellectuals like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau explored how land ownership and hard work equate to independence.
Over time, more efficient labor practices and the use of machinery seeped into the area of agriculture, displacing many farmers. In The Grapes of Wrath, the need for improved farming techniques becomes significant when the drought makes crop cultivation difficult.
The industrial economy adversely affects the farmers, forcing the banks, portrayed as monsters, to foreclose on unprofitable land. Steinbeck depicts industrialization as a sexual force, replacing the loving hands of a farmer with the roughness of a beast: Behind the harrows, the long seeders—twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion.
The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips.
When the Joads move to California, they experience another trial. While the state does not suffer the same weather-related problems as Oklahoma, industrial agriculture has resulted in only a select few owning land, leaving smaller farmers displaced and migrants expecting work.
In both cases, industrial agriculture challenges the Jeffersonian view of the hard-working, noble farmer as a romantic American figure; the new owners have no emotional connection to the land, regarding it only through paper or plunder. Grampa has passed this responsibility to Pa, who presides over a kind of council with the other men.
Ma and the children only observe and try to keep the men from breaking down due to stress. She exerts her newfound power by threatening Pa with a jack handle when he and Tom propose that the family split up after the car breaks down: Ma gets pleasure out of chiding Pa; for her, an angry man is an undefeated man.
With these shifts in family dynamics coinciding with societal shifts, Steinbeck examines the traditional family structure and questions its effectiveness. Steinbeck echoes this idea in several intercalary chapters as migrants unite temporarily in the campgrounds before moving on to the next place.
Coming home from a trip to the wilderness one of several attributes he shares with ChristCasy crosses paths with Tom Joad. Casy confesses his sins yet denounces the organized Christianity he practiced in the past. Several intercalary chapters explain the fear that the California landowners feel over the influx of workers.
As small farmers lost their land to larger operations and owners grew scarcer, workers were imported, abused, and forced to work on credit, sometimes even owing money to their employer.
This cycle gets interrupted when people from the Dust Bowl begin to move west looking for work.
Tensions also increase among the merchant class, who dislike the workers because they cannot gain any capital from them. The general feeling toward the migrants begins to take on racial undertones: The Grapes of Wrath as Proletarian Novel The Grapes of Wrath can be read as a proletarian novel, advocating social change by showing the unfair working conditions the migrants face when they reach California.
The men who own the land there hold the power, and attempt to control supply and demand so that they can get away with paying poor wages. After listening to Casy talk about unity, Tom plans to represent the workers as they fight against exploitation in the face of this economic machine.Migrant Workers in The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck wrote about what surrounded him.
At the time he was writing, the nineteen-thirties, a great depression was plaguing the . In this lesson, we will examine some of the prejudices that are evident in John Steinbeck's ''The Grapes of Wrath'' against Native Americans, migrant workers from Oklahoma, and immigrants.
The Portrayal of Women in John Steinbeck's Novel The Grapes of Wrath. Thesis: The main task of this paper is to examine the Portrayal of Women and their roles in the family in John Steinbeck's Novel The Grapes of Wrath/5(6).
The migrants exist in a world characterized by dirt, dust, suffering, starvation, death, poverty, ignorance, prejudice, and despair.
Steinbeck does not hesitate to provide honest details, many of which appear in the brief chapters of exposition and social commentary that intersperse the Joads’ story. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a novel that deals with large and important themes.
Human history is plagued with prejudice. Human history is plagued with prejudice. Prejudice is when, for reasons that rarely make sense, one group of people treat another group of people unfairly.
In this lesson, we will examine some of the prejudices that are evident in John Steinbeck's ''The Grapes of Wrath'' against Native Americans, migrant workers from Oklahoma, and immigrants.