The Grapes of Wrath
“An entire nation, it seemed, was standing in one long breadline, desperate for even the barest essentials. It was a crisis of monumental proportions. It was known as the Great Depression.” (Appelt) As author Kathi Appelt describes, the Great Depression was an enormous economic recession that affected countless people all across the country. One of the most vivid depictions of the Great Depression is found in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Some may argue that while vivid, Steinbeck’s portrayal may not be completely accurate. However, according to known facts, The Grapes of Wrath accurately depicts the everyday life and class struggle, as well as the influence of religion in the time of the Great Depression.…show more content… They called them “Okies” and “Arkies” as many of them came from Oklahoma and Arkansas. “Okies” faced much open discrimination and hostility, including from law enforcement. Being offered little work but plenty of prejudice, life was difficult for migrant workers during the Great Depression (Nishi, 1998, pp. 12-13).
While Steinbeck’s main characters are migrant farmers, he still describes how the Great Depression affected folk of other occupations, such as the truck driver and Mae, the waitress. Not everyone moved west when the recession hit; those in urban areas tried to keep their jobs and make ends meet. Many could not pay rent and made little shacks of out cardboard to live in. Groups of these shacks were called “Hoovervilles,” similar to the “Okievilles” in California (Nishi, 1998, pp. 8-9). On the other side of the spectrum, there were some wealthy during all of this. Although still affected by the times, these few managed to keep a higher standard of living than was possible for most. Steinbeck shows that no one was immune to the plague of hardship brought on by the Great Depression.
Second, Steinbeck accurately shows the class struggle that was waging during the period of the Great Depression. This tension between the classes is most evident once the Joads reach California. There was a vast gap between rich and poor with not much of a middle class. The rich owned acres and acres and posted guards to make sure that it