Man's Relationship to the Land in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

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Man's relationship to the land undergoes a transformation throughout John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Initially, back in Oklahoma, each family feels a strong attachment to the land because the ancestors of these farmers fought and cleared the Indians out of the land, made it suitable for farming, and worked year after year in the fields so that each generation would be provided for. Passing down the land to successive generations, the farmers come to realize that the land is all that they own. It is their family's source of sustenance. However, the strong bond between man and the land is broken when the bank comes to vacate the tenants during hard times. The tractors hired by the bank literally tear down the bond…show more content…
Each generation feels a personal connection to the land because the land is how each generation makes its living, no matter how big the piece of land may be. In an inter-chapter, a tenant farmer explains to the tractor driver, who is evicting his family, the special bond between man and the land: If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it's part of him, and it's like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn't doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he's bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn't successful he's big with his property. That is so. (50) Through the landowner, Steinbeck reveals that the welfare and happiness of each of the Oklahoman farmers were dependent on the output of the land and its physical condition. The farmers do not ask for much from the land. The land is their way of making the world seem small in comparison to their farms, because to them, their farms are the world. Due to this, the condition of the land dictates the emotions expressed and moods displayed by the farmers. It is implied that the farmers understand that the land all that they own, and if they do not treat it as such, their only source of hope for sustaining for their families is gone. The tenant farmer goes on to explain how the land controls the fate of the family and how man must serve the

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