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

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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 between man and the land. Due to the eviction, the farmers are forced to move to California, where work is supposedly in demand. As each family takes off for California, it no longer feels a connection to the lands through which it is traveling. Once it reaches California, it feels no connection to its land. For the first time, it is forced to be dependent on somebody else's generosity in distributing jobs, and most importantly, somebody else's land. Thus, in California, the relationship between man and land is not as strong as it was in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The change in this relationship is due in part to the mercilessness of the bank, and in the end, man loses because its connection to the only significant thing it has ever owned is gone. Once the families travel to California, each family member's soul stays back in Oklahoma, making it difficult to adjust to working on lands that have not been cultivated by their own family for generations.

 

The land of each generatio...


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...job, but instead, little is offered, because of the numbers that they are coming in. Ultimately, one must conclude that no matter how poor a family may be, without land, all is lost in pursuit of a replacement of the heritage that has been destroyed by a superior power.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Conder, John J. "Steinbeck and Nature's Self: The Grapes of Wrath." John Steinbeck, Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 125-140.

French, Warren. John Steinbeck. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975.

Levant, Howard. "The Fully Matured Art: The Grapes of Wrath." John Steinbeck, Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 35-62.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.

Wallsten, Robert and Steinbeck, Elaine. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. New York: The Viking Press, 1975.


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