Poverty in Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck


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Throughout history, less fortunate people have been set apart or shunned from the general public. In the Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, this statement holds true. Throughout the whole book, all of the less fortunate people are treated like they aren’t even human. This is not much different than how our society is now. In the news article “Major Cities Get Tough With Homeless”, by Angie Cannon, Judy Appel said, “We are saying it is your fault that we have created a structure where there aren’t enough jobs and housing for you to lead a decent life.” (Cannon 1) Appel is saying the same thing Steinbeck was saying in his book. Many homeless people are homeless because they were forced to be that way, and the general public doesn’t realize it.
In the Grapes of Wrath, and in the present time, the general public has set the less fortunate apart from themselves without even realizing it. “I’m seeing more apathy on the part of people. I think people used to feel badly. And now, I think people feel bothered. That’s a dangerous shift.” (Cannon 1) What she means is that at one point in time we used to care for the homeless. We used to try and help them out. Now we don’t care and we just want to get rid of them. This is very similar to the situation in the Grapes of Wrath. At first they wanted thousands of people to come and work, but when they actually started coming, the general public wanted to get rid of them. “And the men of the towns and of the soft suburban county gathered to defend themselves; and the reassured themselves that they were good and the invaders were bad, as a man must do before he fights. They said, these Okies are dirty and ignorant. They’re degenerate sexual maniacs. These Okies are thieves. They’ll steal anything. They’ve got no sense of property rights.” (G.O.W. 363) This was the general publics’ feeling towards the Okies, even though they asked them to come there in the first place. What the people don’t understand is that the Okies are being forced to steal and the general public is the one who is forcing them. In the Grapes of Wrath, and in the present time we, the general public have shunned the less fortunate. It isn’t that we want them to be poor, but we have a hard time fitting in with them.

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And it is hard for people to give less fortunate people a good break.
Even though less-fortunate people appear different a lot of times, they deserve better than how many people treat them. In many cases the events that put a person out on the street were not in their control. This is definitely true with the Joads. So as the general public, we need to realize this and try and fix the problem as much as possible. This would make everyone happy.


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