Free Grapes of Wrath Essays: Steinbeck's Political Agenda


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Political Agenda in The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is a movie that was originally a novel by John Steinbeck
that exposes the desperate conditions under which the migratory farm
families of America during the 1930's live. The movie tells of one family
that migrates west to California through the great economic depression of
the 1930's.  The Joad family had to abandon their home and their
livelihoods.  They had to uproot and set adrift because tractors were
rapidly industrializing their farms along with the erosion of topsoil to
create "the Dust Bowl".  The bank took possession of their land because the
owners could not pay off their loan.  The movie shows how the Joad family
deals with moving to California, how they survive the cruelty of the
landowners that take advantage of them, their poverty and willingness to
work.  The government, and political figures also abuse their powers to
maintain such a lack of balance of power between the workers and
businessmen, and yet some branches of the government protect the workers.
During the Dust Bowl, hundreds of thousands of southerners faced many
hardships, which is the basis of the movie. John Steinbeck wrote this
fiction novel to portray the harsh conditions during the Dust Bowl.  The
Dust Bowl occurred in the mid-west part of America, especially in Oklahoma.
Such people in Oklahoma who lost their jobs from the Depression and
eventually the Dust Bowl were called "Okies."  The mistreatment of the
"Okies" in The Grapes of Wrath can be concluded as being valid.  During the
Red Scare, Americans mistrusted other Americans, especially certain
government organizations.  When one man was telling the "Okie" group that
the pay and jobs are minimal in California, an aristocratic or government
official accused the person of being a communist.  This represents the hate
of the communists in the view of the government.
  In The Grapes of Wrath, the Californians wanted to rid the "dirty" Okies
from California because they were afraid of them. They were afraid that the
Okie would take their land. Even the California police beat them for no just
reason because they wanted the Okies to leave the state. The police, shown
as corrupted thugs, killed Casey because he was "agitating" the public.
Certain government organizations were aware of the harsh living and pay
conditions that was upon the Joad family, and yet they tried to suppress it.

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However, not all departments were inherently "evil."
The department of Agriculture was represented as a "good" department.  A
jolly man who was similar to FDR, the president at the time, represented the
leader of the camp in which the Joad family lived in.  The camp had
extremely good facilities and uninfluenced by the "corrupt" police officers
that were on the side of profit more than protecting the people.  Roosevelt,
in the views of Steinbeck and the producers of the movie, was a good man who
attempted to clean up the huge Depression "mess" by helping the workers get
jobs in government-funded projects.  The dialog between Tom and the
camp-leader, suggested that more camps like this should have been built.
Essentially the movie/book is saying that the political agenda should have
been a more government fueled one.  Instead of letting the "law" handle it,
one should have created more projects for the people to work on.  This way,
the workers won't have to think that a dead man is more valuable than a live
one.


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