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A Contrast of Humanity in Suffering and Exploitation: The Grapes of Wrath

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Of all the injustices that are bestowed upon mankind, none are greater than the ones inflicted by our own species of apathy towards poverty and the hardships of our brothers. Steinbeck gives a view of human frailties and strengths from many different perspectives in “The Grapes of Wrath.” This book demonstrates how people can overcome destitution, team up to find solutions, and provide protection and security in times of trouble. Steinbeck introduces people who are hard working and honest, that reach out selflessly with compassion towards others. However, not everyone reacts to austerity and oppression in the same way. Large groups of people can cause suspicion to outsiders. Ignorant people can be paralyzed by an incomprehensible fear of the unknown, and react with cruelty, prejudice, and hatred toward newcomers that are different from them. This irrational behavior can lead to unnecessarily violence and driving others to the ground. Depicted in this book is capitalism at its worst; landowners, corporations, and government officials exploit the poor and abuse the downtrodden.

The “Grapes of Wrath” is an American allegory of human suffering that takes place in a dark period of the history of our nation, brought on by the Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, during the 1930s and the depression. People experience this tragedy in different ways. The landowner who had to remove the families was torn in turmoil; Steinbeck writes, “ Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold.” Others found ways to be apathe...


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... of humility, compassion, and sacrifice for each other? Or will life spent on earth be selfish, hurtful, and prideful without regard for fellow man. Steinbeck makes us examine our own heart and look into own soul.

Reference:

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York,NY: Penguin Group, 2006. Print.

Levant, Howard, and Harold Bloom "The Fully Matured Art: The Grapes of Wrath." Bloom's Modern Critical Views: John Steinbeck (1987): 35-62. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=16380503&site=lrc-live

Pizer, Donald, and Harold Bloom "DONALD PIZER ON THE ENDURING POWER OF THE JOADS." Bloom's Major Novelists: John Steinbeck (2000): 27-29. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=16430551&site=lrc-live




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