Role Of Robert Steinbeck 's ' The Grapes Of Wrath '

1286 Words Sep 15th, 2014 6 Pages
Robby LaRoy
APLang 2º
Ms. Lehman
The Role of Unity in Survival

During the great depression in the plains of Oklahoma, workers were forced out of their homes as their crops withered away to nothing and dust took over. The general feeling of these migrant workers during the late 20’s and early 30’s can be summarized by the struggle for survival showcased in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. In the novel, a family called the Joads makes their way westward in hopes of a better life for themselves and their future families. In order to understand the zeitgeist during the dust bowl and the experiences of migrant workers, one must first analyze the intercalary chapters and identify with the characters and their various struggles.
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The idea of property ownership throughout the novels plays a vital role in explaining the consciousness of the people and their viewpoint of property. In Chapter 5, Steinbeck illustrates this relation as migrant workers are forced out of their homes and directed to live elsewhere by the “capitalist monster”. This idea of visualizing capitalism as a monster can be explained through the hate filled spirit the book has toward capitalism and viewing it as a monster, accentuates that spirit. In the chapter, Steinbeck writes, "Funny thing how it is. 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.” ‘And the tenant pondered more.‘ “But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it—why, then the property is the man. He can 't do what he wants, he can 't think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he 's the servant of his property. That is so, too," (37). This quote directly shows the relation between property and man as well as its depth into what it means for these farmers to own land. This theme of capitalism and
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