Grapes of Wrath Final Essay In John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath he succeeds in capturing the suffering and turmoil surrounding farm owiners, families, and migrant workers during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The way in which Steinbeck captures the struggle of the Joad family and many others as they make their way to the “Eden” of California gives excellent insight into the American socioeconomic condition in the 1930s.
In many ways I believe that Steinbeck is condemning, not necessarily America as a whole, but rather the dehumanizing effect of a Laissez-faire capitalistic ideology, hile praising the American idea of hard work, independence, and sacrifice. In the novel we see countless examples of Steinbeck’s distaste for any and all institutions responsible for the suffering of “the common man”. He uses his book as a way to pin the blame on the major banks and companies that pushed famers off of their families lands.
As though the bank or the company were a monster, with thought and feeling these last envoys would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines nd monsters all at the same time. (36) This quote is an excellent example of how Steinbeck’s own Judgments are laced tthroughout the book, also in this way we see his subtle condemnation of the banks or “machines” that were tearing the country apart.
In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck lays out many examples in which farms are destroyed and families are torn apart under the weight of a system that no one really controls any longer. We truly see his disapproval in the end of the novel when the loads escape a massive flood. This was his way of portraying the Great Depression as failure of New Era Capitalism, and this flood was symbolic of a divine reckoning; that those who survived the depression and the Dust Bowl should then come together and establish a society that is more exemplary of democracy.
Though there is a condemning tone to the book, Steinbeck manages to use this distaste in government to also praise the American principle of hard work and determination in the face of adversity. It was his belief that neither government nor the natural force that guides free market capitalism could rescue Americans, but instead was the nnate human reaction to band together in times of desperation and help one another. Steinbeck contended that to fix an issue like the Dust Bowl enough people must band together for the good of the group.
Tthroughout the entirety of the book we get examples of this “we’re in this together” mentality, for example when the Joads come across the one eyed man who does nothing except complain about how much he “hates” his boss. When Tom gives him words of encouragement, the man shrugs it off and refuses to see any good in his situation. I believe Steinbeck did this to show that the “Okies” were not seeking pity, but instead encompassed the idea of self- sacrifice and positivity in the face of hardship.
In many ways I believe Steinbeck used his book to convey a message to the public about the condition of the common man pitted against a harmful government system. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath successfully condemns the dehumanizing effect of a Laissez-faire capitalistic Ideology, wnlle pralslng tne American Idea 0T nara work, Independence, ana sacrlTlce as seen through the acts of the Joads.