The Analysis of the Novella ” of Mice & Men” by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men is a novella by John Steinbeck that takes place in the time of the great depression. We see a insight of many individuals roles that struggle in this time. It begins with Lennie and George trying to find work due to Lennie getting them driven out of there last place of work in weed due to his mental disability and not knowing what is right and wrong, in a result to this George is like a parent to lennie and takes care of him. When they arrive at the new ranch we are introduced to new characters such as Curley’s wife and Crooks. Curleys wife faces a lot of sexisum and exclousion, As well as Crooks who is isolated in his in room being in African American and suffering from racism. We see a strong representation of marginalization in groups that took place in the 1930s, Steinbeck brought this out in characters such as Lennie, Crooks and Curley’s wife . He also presents isolation and how they venture to escape this isolation.
Crooks is a prime example of the theme marginalization, he is a African American minority in a time of extreme racism, due to this crooks also experiences isolation . We see crooks face these issues when Lennie approaches him in his separate bedroom and begins to have conversation, Crooks begins to tell Lennie how his experiences are and feelings. “ Cause i’m black. They play cards in there, but i can’t because i’m black. They think i stink well, i tell you all of them stink to me”( Page 68) . In this quote we see Crooks experience marginalization through the use of pronouns, referring to the rest of the men at the bunkhouse as “they” and himself as “I”. Also how he faces loneliness and isolation he states that he is just because he is black he can not go into the bunkhouse and play cards with the rest of the men, he isolated in his room that is separate from the rest of the men due to the complection of his skin.
Crooks is continually faced with Isolation, We see this occur when he gets upset with Lennie and breaks out into telling him how lonely he is “ I tell ya, he cried, “I tell ya a guy too lonely an’ he gets sick….He can’t turn to some other guy and ask him whether it’s right or not. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by” (73 ). This quote shows isolation of Crooks is what cause is viciousness to Lennie, underscoring what george stated about loners being ‘mean” without human compassion. Furthermore we see Crooks undergo marginalization literally and metaphorically. While he is not wanted and does not fit in with the rest of the workers due to him being black, Crooks is also physically isolated from him due to the fact he is put in his own bedroom.
Sexism is one of the many types of marginalization in the novella “ Of Mice and Men” It is strongly represented through curley’s wife and the way women were portrayed. Curley’s wife was the only women at the ranch, due to that she used her physical attraction to get attention and escape her isolation and we see her use this when she is asking where Curley is to George and Lennie. She smiled archly and twitched her body. ‘ Nobody can’t blame a person for looking’ Curley’s wife faces a lot of discrimination the men at the ranch call her disrespectful terms such as ‘tart, ‘rattrap’ and bitch this was common for women in the 1930s who used their sexual appeal for attention. She uses this power of hers because she feels lonely and has no one to converse with. Equally important Curley’s wife also talks about her dreams and her chances of being in Hollywood, “ coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes….An’ i coulda sat in them big hoteles, an’ had pitchers took of me….(88). We see Steinbeck portray Curley’s wife as a woman who had dreams of being in Hollywood and did not get them. Steinbeck emphasizes how limited and isolated they were in the 1930s.
Lennie is described to be a strong individual, but suffers from a mental illness. Lennie is marginalized due to his mental capabilities being limited. Lennie’s character is guided by his friend George, In this quote we see when George gets upset with Lennie he says he would do better on his own and Lennie says “ If you don’ want me i can go off in hills an’ find a cave. I can go away any time”(103) In this quote we see that Lennie is feels isolated because he wants to run away due to George getting upset at him. Lennie is seen marginalized due to the fact that his mental disability and has no power so he would even flee to not cause george anymore trouble.
Lennie is also left alone a lot because george says that he will cause to much trouble if he takes him to town. Lennie is seen going to crooks room due to the fact he was left alone and talks with Crooks. “ Ever’body went into town” he said. Slim an George an ever’body went into town. George says i gotta stay here an’ not gonna get in any trouble”. (68) We see Lennie isolated from the men in the bunkhouse because they dont bring him due to his mental disability and causing trouble. Lennie is marginalized and looked as lower in power because of his mental disability.
In the novella Of Mice and Men we see groups that are marginalized and isolated due to there mental disability, race and also their gender. Linnie is marginalized and isolated due to his mental disability we see this when he is always left alone or when he is looked as lower and not unintelligent. Crooks is also marginalized and isolated due to him being African American and worthless also him being separated from other workers at the ranch . Sexisum is another trait of marginailzatin and it is seen through Curley’s wife when she is very limited to certain things and is portrayed to be a specific way in society. Furthermore all of these individuals try to escape marginalization and isolation but are unsuccessful. In society we can not look down upon people that are mentally unstable, there gender or race, as one humans should be more accepting and equals.
Of Mice and Men: Character Analysis of George and Curley
Of Mice and Men Essay
Those who succeed in life have a dream, and they know what to do to accomplish their dream. Even though they face problems, they still know what to do. They also maintain good relationships with people. However, those who failed usually do not have any dreams nor good personalities and attitudes. This paper will discuss how George’s and Curley’s characteristics will lead them to success or failure.
George will succeed in life because he has a goal to fulfill- his dream of owning a farm. Although he does not discuss his dream after Lennie kills Curley’s wife, it does not mean that he has given up. John Steinbeck, the author of Of Mice and Men, says nothing about George giving up his dream. Also, George still has Candy, who helps in achieving George and Lennie’s dream. Candy is similar to Lennie. He is used to following other people and is childlike in his mentality. When he sees Curley’s wife dead, his only concern is whether he will be able to accomplish his goal with George
George is also friendly. His behavior is rough, but no one hates him for it because of his warm heart. For instance, when he arrives at the ranch, George easily becomes friends with Candy, who is already a worker at the ranch. It is important to make friends easily because it helps in the face of hardships.
George faces several crises and overcomes wisely. For instance, He lies that he is Lennie’s cousin when the boss asks about their relationship, and he decides to kill Lennie when Lennie kills Curley’s wife so that Lennie does not need to undergo the pain of being tortured by Curley. His capacity for solving crises may be useful when he later faces other crises. Another reason that George can succeed is that he can continue to work on the ranch because no one, not even Curley, hates him.
George is also used to leading others, like Lennie. That is, he is a leader. He is always telling Lennie what he should do. At the end of first chapter, for example, he tells Lennie to hide in the brush near the river when he gets in trouble. And at the end of third chapter, he tells Lennie to fight back when Lennie is being beaten up by Curley.
Curley, however, will ultimately become a failure. First, he is always suspicious. He is continuously looking for his wife because he suspects of her seeing other men on the ranch. In Chapter Three, for example, he suspects that Slim is with his wife.
A former boxer, Curley also has a violent temper. Because of his inferiority complex on people who are taller than him, he likes use violence on them. The first time he sees the rather tall in Chapter Two Lennie, he almost becomes violent. He eventually does so at the end of Chapter Three. He uses the incident of Lennie killing his wife as an opportunity to lynch Lennie, also in retaliation for his broken hand caused by his attempt to punch Lennie. It indicates that he is also an opportunist
The arrogance of Curley puts him at an even further disadvantage. He is arrogant in front of all the ranch people, except Slim, throughout the book. This is more apparent in the middle part of Chapter Two when he meets George and Lennie and orders Lennie to talk when he is spoken to. In the end, Curley is alone. Although it is not clear that every one in the ranch hates Curley, the reader can easily surmise that the ranch people are not exactly takens to him. This is supported by Candy’s statement to George and Lennie: “Seems to me like he’s worse lately… Seems like Curley is cockier’m ever since he got married.” (p. 30, Steinbeck)
In the end, George is likely to accomplish his dream with Candy’s help. Curley is likely to end up in jail because of his anti-social attitude and hostile mentality. Both are walking down the paths they have chosen, but only one of those paths leads to success. It is clear that George has found the path of success.
Character Analysis: the Grapes of Wrath #1 Jim Casy
In the infamous novel, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Jim Casey portrays a strong, helping, and knowledgeable character who is admired by many. Jim Casey is introduced as he meets with the main character, Tom Joad. They meet as JIm Casey introduces himself and says that he no longer knows what is calling is, as he says he has given up preaching. Jim Casey then recalls that he is the one who baptized Tom Joady when he was a child, but Tom said he was not aware of that because he had not been paying attention. Both continue to let each other know more about one another, but Tom Joad was on his way home, so instead of leaving Jim Casey asks him if he can tag along, in which Tom Joad gladly agreed, and continued their journey home to Joad Farm. Jim Casey continues the rest of his life with Tom Joad and his family as they make their way to California after farmers have been kicked out from their land. JIm Casey makes it his case to find out why this is happening to innocent people who are just of low income and why they are being treated differently from those of higher classes and wealth.
Jim Casey represents a strong character. He is brave enough to stand up for social justice even if it means being arrested or even killed by the police. Through the novel, this bravery is shown. As a man questions an officer about the treatment workers have been receiving, him asking this angers the policeman in which the police man proceeds to strike at him. Jim Casey sees this as rises to help the man being beaten, him striking at an officer earns him an arrest in which he later is bailed, but this shows that Jim Casey has no fear in doing something if it is for the right thing. Later in the novel, Jim Casey is seen once again standing up for workers rights and trying to get others to create a union to achieve better treatment within their facilities and workplaces, another officer, yet again sees him doing this, and those who do resist are usually blacklisted. Jim Casey did not care about the consequences, only that the weak had someone to stand up for them and he was that. He took his own life just to prove a point, to seek better work environments and wage for the hard work farmers have to do. Jim Casey sees the inequality and injustice and does whatever it takes to seek his goal in changes how they are treated.
Not only is Jim Casey strong but he knowledgeable in what he does. He has heard stories of how farmers earned just treatment just by uniting together and he aims to do this with the people he is surrounded by. He takes what he knows and he uses it to his advantage. Jim Casey educates people on why they should not settle for less and why they should fight for more than what they are being given. Though during this fight for equality, he does die, he has influenced his friends and family and which is why Tom Joad sees what is occurring also and finishes what Jim Casey has started. His death was a spark of realization for Tom Joad, seeing that people of lower class receive brutal treatment and that is why he continues the fight for his friend and for other farm workers. Jim Casey takes what he learns and educates the people around him which is why he had such a big influence on other people.
Jim Casey is a character who loses who they thought they were to be and comes to a rough patch in discovering who they are as a person and what they were meant to do with this world. JIm Casey may have lost his faith in preaching but he found something else he put his faith in and was passionate about. Social justice and fighting for equality was Jim Casey’s new found preaching and that was his calling that he had found.
“The Grapes of Wrath” Book Analysis
The setting of the opening scene suggest that the novel will be depict life in the dust bowl. The scene also advocates that the family unit structure is based on gender roles and the man centric society.
The land turtle possesses determination, persistence, resilience and flexibility
Casy’s suppositions about sin are he doesn’t believe in them and has come to the conclusion that that’s just the way humankind is. His assesment on bad words is that there is nothing bad about them and they are just words everyone use.
Tractors operate by moving across the land and cutting the Earth. The bank pays the tractor drivers to clear the land. The small farmers have no powers against the bank and the tractors
Muley is critical to the story because he exhibits the dehumanizing quality of the bank’s encroachment. The difference between the hunter and the hunted is the hunted are weak and the hunters are strong and have power. 6. The function of the other short chapters is to explain how life is for poor farmers. Chapter seven implies that used-car salesmen make a profit by selling old cars to poor farmers who want to move to California.
The things the Joad family face confront uncovers that they are caring and kind-hearted. The most essential characteristics of Pa are that he is dedicated, he never surrenders except if he needs to he has to and, he is never perplexed and he has faith in himself. Ma’s most imperative qualities are that she likes to donate to people in need. The grandparents’ most significant characteristics are that they don’t keep quiet about important things and they are indistinguishable yet different. 8. Each member of the family feels distinctive about moving to California. Pa and Al are ecstatic, Tom is concerned because of his parole, Grandpa is anxious, Grandma is compliant and Ma is skeptical because she feels that they are being misled. Tom’s philosophy is to live each day like it’s your last. Ma’s burning of the old stationary box delineates her needing to disregard the past and focus on the future.
The first unfortunate circumstance that occurs on the Joad’s journey is the death of the family dog. The event portends future losses the family might face.
The family solidifies when their jalopy breaks down and Grandpa Joad dies. The significance of Grandpa Joad’s death is that it helps the family keep fighting in order to honor him. Grandma takes Grandpa Joad’s death with dignity. Ma believes if the family sticks together that it is worth fighting for. The value of Casy’s prayer was how simple it was.
The function of chapter fifteen is to give a less sympathetic perspective to the Joad’s situation. The people who owned diners and small businesses are burdened by the migrant workers. The waitresses’ view the migrant workers with conflicting loathe and compassion.
The significance of Ma’s reaction is that it keeps the family together
The one-eyed man hates the owner of the junkyard and says he might kill him. Tom tells the one-eyed man to shower, get an eyepatch and live his life. 6. The ragged man tells Pa that there is no work in California and that his wife and children starved to death. This news makes Pa worried at first but he realized the Joad’s might have a different experience.
While camping the people become like one big family and they create their own rules of conduct and their own means of enforcement. This gives them strength and power because of the support and the way they connect 8. The Joad’s first view of California is that it is very desert like. The two men from the Panhandle tell the Joad’s they will feel unworthy and unwelcome. Noah leaves to find food and water. Ma gets upset because she fears the family is starting to fall apart.
The migrants were called “Okies” because they came from Oklahoma but then people changed the meaning of the word to scum or dirt. The two boys say that Okies aren’t human and they didn’t have any feelings
The desert symbolizes the hardships they will face as they travel deeper into California. After they crossed the desert it
Life of Family in a Story the Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is a story of family named Joad’s written by John Steinbeck. In the book, John Steinbeck mention the struggles faced by Joad’s family by travelling from their hometown Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California for finding a better life. They had a family of five, grandparents, parents and son. Author mentioned that they packed everything they needed in a truck and started travelled don’t knowing what they will encounter via route. The story line is created from the point of view happened in 1930’s.
They started their journey because during 1930 dust bowl happened. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms which damaged the land and destroyed fertility of agriculture field in American and Canadian prairies. It also damaged Sallisaw. Farmers over there don’t have money, so they borrowed money from banks and putted their lands as a guarantee. As Dust Bowl happened, land became useless and farmers don’t have money to repay it back to banks. Banks took there land instead of money. Joad family also one of the farmers who took money from bank and putted their land as a guarantee. As Dusk Bowl hits Sallisaw, they became helpless as they can’t grow anything on land. And as they have loan on their head, bank took their land and occupied. As they have no choice, they went to tom uncle’s place and then started moving to California.
They choose California because California is a fertile land and they thought they might find jobs over there. As they started moving to California, on there first stop they find Wilson’s family whose car is broke down. As Wilson’s family saw that grandpa is ill, they offered Joad family a tent. But after some time, grandpa got more sick and died. Instead of tent, Joad family helped Wilson to fix their car and decided to go on journey together. As the time went, grandma also started feeling sick because of grandpa’s dead. As both families reach the desert bordering California, Wilson’s wife fell sick and Joad family has to moved forward leaving Wilson’s family back. As they started moving forward, Grandma’s health became crucial. Halfway through the desert, grandma died. But Joad’s wife didn’t tell anyone, as she thought that telling in the middle of the desert will not good and she kept it from everyone. Once they travelled desert, Joad’s wife told everyone that Grandma died.
As they reach the end of desert. They buried grandma and went to look for a shelter. After some time, they found a camp. As Tom went to talk to man named Floyd Knowles, he sawed a businessman walking with a policeman to talk about job. When Floyd asked for written paper, policeman made him a criminal. As he went to arrest Floyd, Jim Casy, leader who fights for low wages, saved Floyd and pushed Policeman. After Cop came to consciousness, he arrested Casy and Joad family moved from that place to avoid any difficulties. After some time, they reached a government camp in Weedpatch. In this camp, there are certain people who formed their community to run that place. After spending some days, Joad’s didn’t find any job. After going somewhat farther, they found a place named Tulare. Where they found job in pick peached farm. But wages over there were too low. One day Tom saw the policemen which came up to him before, and somebody shouted Casy is dead and policeman killed him. He attacked policeman and in process his nose is broken, and he became wanted.
Tom escapes from farm and next morning whole family moved out of that place. After some time, they got job in cotton farm, but they must share their work with family called Wainrights. As Tom is wanted, he went to hide in a cave and his mother feed him daily by going to cave. After some time, Tom started to fight back against landowners because they are paying less to people.
As people in California increased, government started to remove migrants. Because people are not getting enough money to feed themselves one time per day also. As people started to claim residency of California, government named them Okies. Called to people who were from northern and southern Plaines.
As stock market crash in 1929, Americans were hugely affected. The most affected people were landowners and farmers. Because they don’t have a livelihood. As banks have the land papers, they don’t want to wait for economy to grow back. They took away all the land from farmers and landowners and took charge. As farmer already grow plants before this, banks cultivated whole farms and took their crops. As the farmer families don’t have much knowledge, they can’t find employment elsewhere. Banks hired farmers who lost their land and made them work on there on field for low wages. As farmers don’t have any choices they worked for low wages.
From my opinion, from this book I can say that the social and economic problems during thirties were worst. As we saw that people lose their lands but there is nobody to help them. Even government can’t help them. Banks were the most superior at that time I can say that, as they took all the lands during Dust Bowl and market crash. And they even forced farmers to work in low wages. New Deal became very useful to the people as president Roosevelt help all the farmers. As soon as he became president, he proposed New Deal and put banks on strike. He encourages people to deposit funds in bank and stop spending. He tried to stop emergency and help to increase stock market and end great depression. From new deal he also wants to create more jobs with proper wages and help people.
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck: the Character of Doc
In the novel “Cannery Row,” John Steinbeck tends to make the readers comprehend that the novels attitude towards one of the main characters, Doc, is acceptance, kindness, and forgiving despite what errors people may do in Cannery Row. Doc’s character is the proprietor and dealer of the Western Biological Laboratory. Doc is rather small, for he is rough and well built and when the angry him comes out he can be very vicious. He has a beard and his face is half Christ and half satyr and his face says the truth. It is stated that he has helped many women out of one trouble and into another. Doc has the hands of a brain surgeon, and a cool warm mind. He can kill anything for need, but he could never hurt a feeling for satisfaction.
Doc became the source of science, philosophy and art. He would listen to any strange things and change it for you to a kind of wisdom. Doc’s mind had no outlook and his compassion had no warp. He could talk to children, tell them very sincere and intense things so that they understood. Doc lived in a world of excitement. He is very lustful but very gentle. Everyone who knew him was grateful to him. “And everyone who thought of him thought next: I really must do something nice for Doc” (29-30). This information and quote is significant because it begins by telling the readers a little background about Doc and directly makes it clear that Doc is the one person who you can always turn to and count on. As Doc may be the most popular and cherished character in the book he is also very lonely. Though he spends most of his time in the laboratory, collecting sea creatures or listening to music, he was a “. . . lonely and set-apart man” (96). Which brings us to introduce Frankie, Frankie is a an eleven year old boy with large eyes and dark hair who mysteriously appears at Doc’s laboratory. When Doc asks Frankie some questions about himself he simply tells him that he lives up the hill, does not go to school because they don’t want him there and that he comes to the laboratory because he doesn’t hit him or give him a nickel.
Meaning his so called “family” abuse him or sometimes give him a nickel to go away. Doc takes the boy in and starts to take care of him, though Frankie is a boy who mostly doesn’t know how to do anything Doc teaches him how to do things around the lab such as, measuring fish, but Frankie can’t seem to do anything right and when this occurs he crawls in the excelsior box and doesn’t come out all afternoon. “But Frankie was a nice, good, kind boy, He learned to light Doc’s cigars and he wanted Doc to smoke all the time so he could light the cigar’s” (). He also loved the parties that Doc had, he would sit back and listen to the conversations people would have. But one afternoon while a party was going on Frankie grabbed a drink and took it over to a lady sitting on a chair, Frankie will never forget how the lady smiled and thanked him and how Doc said that he was a great help to him, that made Frankie’s confidence boost way up. “She took the glass and said: “Why, thank you,” and she smiled at him. And Doc coming through the door said: “Yes, Frankie is a great help to me” (57). Though sadly when the next party occurred and Frankie tried to do the same thing he accidentally dropped the drinks in front of Docs guests. After this incident Frankie ran upstairs and into the cellar. Doc went after him to check up on him but when he heard him whimpering he went back down and thought that there wasn’t anything he could do to help him. This is a great example of Doc’s personality, he took the boy in because of his great heart but not only because of his compassion but because he too needed the company. Doc tried to help Frankie feel confident about himself. In contrast, when Frankie later on reappears in the novel, Frankie hears about the party and tries to rob a beautiful clock to give it as a present but he gets caught, the police call Doc and doc tries to bail him out but the police say he’s not allowed to, when Doc asks Frankie why he did that Frankie simply says, I love you, Doc runs away without giving Frankie a response which makes the readers think that Doc is afraid of getting too close to people or to even be loved.
Doc was not a medical doctor but everyone in Cannery Row considered him as one, he was the closest thing to a doctor. During the influenza epidemic, Doc was the man of the year, the whole town went to Doc to be examined or cured. “It was not his fault that everyone in the Row came to him for medical advice. Before he knew it he found himself running from shanty to shanty taking temperatures, giving physics, borrowing and delivering blankets and even taking food from house to house where mothers looked at him with inflamed eyes from their beds, and thanked him and put the full responsibility for their children’s recovery on him” (93). Once again Doc is shown as the person who can always be counted on. Doc helps the townspeople of Cannery Row when they need medicine or medical advice. Every family in Cannery Row depend on Doc to cured or at least be told what is wrong. Jumping into Doc’s first and second party, Mack and the boys create both parties. The first party resulted as total disaster due Mack’s childish and non thinking brain. When Mack and the boys achieve hunt frogs they later on exchange the frogs for their own needs, needs for the party such as liquor and steaks. When they decide to start the party at Doc’s without Doc actually being there they start to get carried away by the thought of Doc being there and getting surprised by his surprise party. But the hours pass and Doc is nowhere to be found but Mack and the boys don’t seem to care about that they are just enjoying themselves without recalling who the party is really for.
Later on things take a quick turn, some of Doc’s belongings end up being broken, some of the frogs jump out, and Doc’s home is somewhat destroyed. When Doc arrives the next morning he takes a look around and feels very angry right away, when Mack comes out and tries to explain what he was trying to do Doc immediately starts punching him, Mack just lets himself get beat but Doc is so angry that he yells at Mack to punch back, “Put up your hands. Fight, you son of a bitch,” Doc cried, and he hit him again and heard the crunch of breaking teeth” (123). But after all the punching and yelling Mack sincerely apologizes to Doc and says that he will pay for everything he destroyed, and Doc being the nice guy he always is tells him it’s fine, he doesn’t have to pay anything, Doc insists that with all the punches he gave him it’s all cleared up. On their second attempt the party turns out as a success. Mack and the boys throughly think this one out, before they organize the party they think to themselves what type of party will be this one. Mack discretely asks Doc when is his birthday, Doc says October 27, and that is where Mack and the boys get the idea of throwing him a surprise birthday party. But since everyone in town was practically invited, everyone was talking about it so Doc heard about it and for that he went home nad hid anything that could be broken, he knew that it was for him but he acted as if he didn’t know when he showed up at the party. The party resulted with people eating, drinking, and bringing lots of gifts for Doc.
Including a patchwork quilt,twenty-five-foot string of firecrackers, a big bag of China lily bulbs, connecting-rod and piston from a 1916 Chalmers, and many more gifts. As everyone arrived they all had their food and drinks, the town laughed and spent a good time. In sum, then, the party was a nice, Doc ends up playing music on his phonograph and later on reading a poem, everyone was excited and glad to be part of Doc’s party. The point of these two party scenes are to signify the meaning of Doc’s person, as said in the beginning of the book “I must do something nice for Doc” the town ended up showing an appreciation birthday party for Doc and all of his kind actions he has done. Ultimately, then, my goal is to demonstrate that Docs actions show a pattern of kindness, forgiving, cherished, respectful, and extraordinary. Since Doc’s actions always seem to end up pleasing someone, making them feel better about themselves or about a situation. No matter if you’ve done something wrong, Doc seems to always end up forgiving all things. Doc is strangely the definition of a person who you can walk over and they will still forgive you and give you another chance.
The Analysis of the Fictional Book “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, is a fictional account of a migrant family’s struggles before and while traveling to California in hopes of a new beginning during the Great Depression. As one would know from any level US history course, the Great Depression is the nation’s worst economic deficit to this day. Although farmer’s hardships began before the economic crash, they experienced huge deficits during the Depression that ended up forcing them to become migrant workers in search for opportunity.
John Steinbeck, himself, lived throughout the Great Depression and although he was not a farmer during this time, he still experienced the extreme hardships that this time period created for people. One of the most predominant hardships experienced was the overwhelming lack of the “golden rule.” People did not treat others as they would want to be treated which then created a strain on society. Steinbeck said, “my whole work drive has been aimed at making people understand each other.” One would only truly understand what people went through during this time if they lived through it, and Steinbeck did just that.
This fictional book accounts for life during the great Depression through a true lens of what life was like during this period. It addresses the cultural, economic, political, and social struggles during this time using biblical references, allegories, and metaphors. Throughout the entirety of The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family experiences many hardships that reflect on the culture during the Great Depression. The Joad family lived in Oklahoma, which was termed the Dust Bowl during this time period. This region was deemed the “Dust Bowl” because during the early 1930’s, the topsoil that farmers had plowed up turned to dust and as the wind blew the dust covered the sky and smothered the livestock, so these farmers picked up their life and moved to California.
The Joad family was tenant farmers, meaning that they were “landless farmers” just renting the land from the landowners. When Tom Joad was released from jail, he returned to his family’s farm only to discover that they had been “tractored off the land” by the landowners because they said, “We can’t afford to keep no tenants.” After being kicked off the land, the Joad family moved in with Uncle John, which is where Tom will reunite with his family. Once reunited with his family, Tom discovers that everyone has been working picking cotton in order to save up enough money to travel to California.
The sad truth about the migration to California is that it ripped families apart. For example, Muley Graves, a neighbor of the Joad family, did not migrate to California with his wife kids, and brother in law. Instead he stayed back in Oklahoma saying that he could not leave because “Somepin jus’ wouldn’ let me.” Casey, the preacher, told him “You should of went too, You shouldn’t of broke up the fambly.” Another example is not so literal in the fact that it broke the family apart, but it was the fear of never seeing a family member again. Ma Joad was terrified at the thought of leaving little Tom in prison while the rest of the family travels west to search for opportunity.
Steinbeck portrayed this fear clearly by allowing Pa Joad to tell Tom, “Your ma got a bad feelin’ she ain’t never gonna see you no more…Almost she don’t want to go to California, fear she’ll never see you no more.” These families’ cultures were their land and their loved ones, and this time period seemed to strip one if not both from them. The tenant farmers, like the Joads, during this time were forced to leave the land that they had made their own. Where they had established a life and a way of living, and some people, such as Muley and Grandpa, could not bear the thought of leaving their behind. Grandpa Joad said, I ain’t a-goin’. This country ain’t no good, but it’s my country.” Based off of the first half of the book and the hardships that the Joad family encountered, one can assume that the families during the Great Depression were in complete culture shock after being forced to leave behind the life that they had known and built for themselves.
Steinbeck writes about the beauty and the ugliness of society in great detail throughout the entire book. For starters, one can infer from details in the book that society was split very vividly into two groups: people with money and people with no money. This caused a major strain on the relationships within the society, which is where the “golden rule” is broken in so many ways. There are many examples of how cruel society was to these migrants during the chapters involving the actual trip to California, but the very first one stands out the most. This example involves a tire salesman trying to rip Jim Casy off for a tire. Jim explains that they need a tire but do not have a whole lot of money, so they need a good deal on the tire. The salesman told him, “I’m here a-sellin’ tires. I ain’t givin’ ‘em away.”
The salesman says he is not a charity so eventually, Jim agrees to take the tire because they have no other choice, but not without looking at it first. The casing was almost completely ruined, but the salesman was still holding tight to the price and only offering to take 50 cents off the original price. Jim refuses the offer saying “I’ll go on the rim before I’d give that son-of-a-bitch a dime.” This shows the overwhelming hostility that developed between business owners and migrant workers during this time period. Another example proving hostility within the society was when a police officer, someone who they considered they could trust, came into their tent and tried to scare Ma Joad by pulling on the holster with his gun in it and also telling her to get out or they would be run out. This was also the first time that they had been deemed “Okies.”
Although there was a lot of hostility between upper and lower classes during this time period, the lower class watched out for each other. For example, Steinbeck uses Route 66 as a symbol of unity among the migrant workers. Many events that took place on the route were negative because of car failure and even death, but Steinbeck turned these events into positive ones by unifying the people. He tells of a story about a family of twelve that did not have a car or enough money to buy car, so they built a trailer and waited on the side of 66 for someone to give them a ride. A good Sarmatian pulled seven of them in the trailer and five of them rode in the car.
Similarly, after the death of Grandpa while traveling, the Joad family was unified with the Wilson family. They soon became a whole while traveling and “each’ll help each, an’ we’ll all git to California” as Ma stated. The last and probably the most beautiful example used to prove that there were still people with goodness in their heart was when Sharon of Rose gave her breastmilk to the starving, dying man. This signifies not only that some people in society care for one another, but it also symbolizes the sacrifice that she made in order for this man to live. She turned a very negative event, such as the birth of a stillborn baby, into a nourishing gesture that could save a life. Steinbeck says that even though extremely cruel events have to these people, some events are “so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.”
Considering that The Grapes of Wrath was written about the lowest economic period in American history, one can assume that some of Steinbeck’s writing would be revolved around these issues, and within these economic issues come political issues. When the Joad family was getting ready to begin their journey to California, they had to go into town and sell off almost all of their belongings for mainly two reasons. One being that they needed the money to start over in California and two being that there was very limited space in the vehicle, so they could only take the bare minimum with them. The problem was that they could not afford to turn down any offers when they were going to sell their items, so they accepted extremely low costs which barely them any profit. For example, a seeder before the Depression was around 38 dollars and during the Depression, migrant farmers were lucky to get 2 dollars for it.
All of the movable objects from the farm including “the horses, the wagon, the implements, and all the furniture” only earned the Joad family eighteen dollars.[footnoteRef:24] Also, once people were kicked off their land, they were considered breaking the law by trespassing because corporal law had already told them to get off. Muley describes this process as being hunted.[footnoteRef:26] He says, when you’re huntin’ somepin you’re a hunter, an’ you’re strong….but when you get hunted-that’s different. This quote explains how Muley used to be mean and strong, but after the cops and corporal businesses started looking for him he became like a “weasel”- maybe fierce, but not strong.
All of the social, cultural, economic, and political hardships that were addressed in the book were all used in way that they could relate to each other. The culture hardships contributed to the social hardships, which then contributed to the economic hardships, and so on. No matter which way one orders these concepts, they all come back to relate to one another in some way. Overall, Steinbeck uses all of these hardships to explain the life changing events that occurred during this time period.
- Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.”The American Yawp.” The American Yawp Reader. Accessed September 27, 2018. http://www.americanyawp.com/.
- Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Penguin: New York, 1939
The 100 Best Novels: No 65 – the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Police harassing helpless tenant farmers. Tractors razing houses to the ground. Overworked employees and their loved ones struggling to avoid starvation. As the Joads and many other families travel across the country to California in search of economic prosperity, they face many hardships. Roosevelt said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ Even though the president of the time believed we needed to assist those struggling from the depression, many of those in need were treated cruelly.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath demonstrates the injustices committed against American farmers during the Great Depression. At the beginning of the novel, Tom comes home to see his house deserted. His family was evicted by a company that owned a vast amount of land during a time of hardship throughout the country. They are forced to live with “Uncle John” until they earn enough money to travel to California. While the family works to earn enough money for a car to travel to California, a tractor comes and razes their home to the ground. Even though the land was theirs for the taking, it was unjust to force tenant farmers off the land on which they had raised their families. These American farmers, already struggling from the Dust Bowl, were forced to evacuate their homeland in search of employment. During the Dust Bowl, groves of unemployed farmers migrated to California to find jobs. Because there was an overabundance of migrants and limited jobs, the wages were extremely unfair. Most migrant workers made less than two or three dollars a day. As jobs became a rarity throughout the American southwest, families ran out of options and were forced to stay in camps. These camps were drowning with starving families.
When work was available the workers had no choice but to take the jobs. These jobs were not stable income because the employers could fire employees or lower their wages at any time. Law enforcement was another major cause of injustice in the novel. While the Joads were staying at camps in California, they discovered that many police officers were corrupt. The police would always side with the rich landowners. This meant that the police often were negligent toward the migrants. These migrants, such as the Joads, were often referred to as “Okies,” which was a derogatory term for Oklahoma natives that were forced to leave during the Dust Bowl. In February of 1936, 125 police officers were sent to the borders of California to keep our the “undesirables” or “Okies”. This xenophobia toward the Okies allowed police to get away with horrendous acts against them. The police used extreme methods, such as burning down camps, in order to separate those on their “blacklist” who were suspected of forming unions.In The Grapes of Wrath there are numerous examples of injustice toward the migrant farmers. The Joads as well as other “Okies” were victims of xenophobia throughout what they thought was a land of great opportunity and economic prosperity. The actions taken by the wealthy companies and landowners, as well as law enforcement, made these already suffering migrant farmers lives much harder.
Totalitarian Story in Russian Journal by John Steinbeck
This book by John Steinbeck can be described as an eyewitness where he wrote the daily life of Stalin’s Soviet Union. As a first layer of the journal he travelled to Georgia, Kiev, Moscow and Stalingrad, during forty days between July 31 and September 1947 he was documenting the social, cultural life of the peoples and of the nature that surrounded him. However, he was also accompanied by the famous war photographer Robert Capa which was responsible to leave photographic report.
The situation Russia had in 1947 was an instability growing tensions caused because of the background; World War II. As an immediate response to the Second World War, the Cold War emerged, which is the context to Steinbeck’s journal. As a brief review of the situation, Russia and the United States were leading a political, economic, social, military, informatic and scientific dispute that absorbed countries form the West and East Europe onto the discussion; creating proxy wars. The East side was under the control of Russia, while The United States of America had the Occidental countries. Specifically, the situations in big cities (where Steinbeck travelled) such as Stalingrad, the daily life was complex and seemed as a battlefield for food and other necessities, not only because of their current situations, but because of the destruction left from World War II.
Moving to the journal, it develops with several comments of Steinbeck towards the strength and hope people where conveying, even when they where in a situation that showed the opposite. The way it is described each of the populations it feels as if he had been there for a very long time, he talks about the habitants of Mosco, personally, as one of the populations more affected by this catastrophe. Throughout the journal we can see many different places, and curiosities that Stalin’s Russia offered. There is also comments on the complications that Capa had in sever occasions where he said; “Russians are against me”, as a reference to the difficulties he found on taking in pictures with such dull portraits. However, Capa and Steinbeck did a magnificent job at recreating the complications of the soviet society in those years, given that we know the stories in the text books, but this journal represents more the reality. Written from a personal perspective.
Continuing with characteristics of the book, I would like to emphasize the way in which Steinbeck writes the journal. He is writing about a society that is leaving in the remains of what they have after the iron curtain fell, it is a complex historical document and a future memorial of the lives of this people. Written in an intimate way to successfully construct a bond between the reader and the people in the journal.