Empathy In The Grapes Of Wrath

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Empathy is vital to trust- but what if that understanding is absent, or if sympathy is not given as needed? Such is the case of The Grapes of Wrath, where class differences rule over a turbulent and aggressive rivalry. The novel follows the struggling lower class, oppressed by the corrupt upper class, who cannot understand their hardships. This lack of understanding and willingness to sympathize with the lower class boosts tensions and further emphasizes differences between the classes, leading to the primary conflicts of the story. Through the use of juxtaposition and point of view in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck shows that the upper class lacks the empathy to relate to the struggles of the lower class. Characters in The Grapes of Wrath are often contrasted to emphasize certain qualities in their relationships, the most notable being a lack of empathy versus a caring and generous nature. Steinbeck’s use of juxtaposition is key to understanding the significance of the contrast involving the landowners and the migrants and why they cannot share sympathies and opinions. These two groups are both rivals and continuously reinforce differences in their lifestyles, and such is the case for the landowners and migrants, which are two drastically different classes that will not cooperate. The migrants are searching for job opportunities and safe places, but are often cheated by the landowners, who are corrupted by their drive for cheap labor and, ultimately, riches,
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