The Grapes Of Wrath Essay: The Malice of Society

867 Words 4 Pages
Malice
In Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family represents the thousands of migrant families who came to the west with the fantasy of obtaining a peaceful life after the Dust Bowl. Conversely they are faced with something resembling the epitome of human cruelty. Business owners and Californians do what they can to keep the Oklahoma families from breaching the invisible line that divides the privileged and the poor. This line, which only exists in the mind, causes people to loose their sense of humanity. The following quote describes the attitude of the wealthy: “And in the little towns pity for the sodden men changed to anger” (Steinbeck 434).
In the beginning of the novel, Steinbeck describes the devastating Dust bowl
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From the beginning, people are merciless with the Oklahoma folks. When the Okies, derogatory term for the Oklahoma migrants, try to sell their items, they are taken advantage of because of their ignorance of bargaining and need for money.
Getting to California is problematic enough. The Oklahoma people can not stop at a gas station, store, or diner without receiving some sort of unkind glance. One situation in the novel describes a waitress who is reluctant to serve man because he is a migrant. “You can’t get no loaf a bread for a dime. We only got fifteen-cent loafs” is what she tells him (Steinbeck 159). Situations only get worse as they near the ‘fruitful’ land of California. While they think there is an unlimited amount of jobs in California, the affluent business owners are constantly sending out more handbills. The more men he gets the less money he can pay each man that comes looking for a job. “‘Maybe he needs a thousan’ men. He’ll get five thousan’ there an’ he’ll pay fifteen cents an hour’” (Steinbeck 263). Men have to provide for their families so they readily seize what wages they can get. All the while, the pockets of the business owner grow fatter and fatter. Steinbeck steadily insults the mentality of the wealthy.
There isn’t any house that the Oklahoma people could afford. Instead they set up camps along side the road or congregate in one area. These areas where the migrants assemble are referred…