Alienation, A Theme in John Steinbeck´s The Grapes of Wrath

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Grapes of Wrath: Alienation In Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck reveals the assumptions and moral values of Californian society in the 1930s by narrating the tale through the eyes of Tom Joad. Tom and his family are evicted from their homes by the bank because the drought had diminished the profitability of the land. They join numerous other migrants on Route 66, hoping for a better life in California. Both the rich Californian landowners and the Californian workers alienate the migrant families, showing a blatant disregard for human life in pursuit of preserving their own self-interests. Migrant families were subject to being alienated and called names. The first time Tom hears the term Okie he asks someone what it means, and he learns that, "Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum" (Page chapter 18). This quote shows the hatred Californians had for the migrant families who were looking for a new start. "Okie" became a derogatory term used by Californians who feared that the people migrating from the Midwest would take their jobs. Californians alienated and dehumanized migrants by labeling them. The implication that a migrant is a “dirty son-of-a-bitch” further serves to dehumanize migrants by relating them to filthy street dogs. The word scum is also demeaning, and by comparing migrants to dirt Steinbeck shows that Californians thought that the migrants were worthless. Paranoid Californians did

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