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The Relationship of Employers and Workers in the Grapes of Wrath

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Chris Steinke 04-10-07; English III The Relationship of Employers and Workers in the Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck has a peculiar style of writing, as it has both macracosmic chapters that focus on the whole and complex structure of the time and hardships of the Great Depression and microcosmic chapters that focus on one particular family, the Joad family. The Joad family exemplifies the thesis statements made in the alternating macrocosmic chapters, as it illustrates these themes in day-to-day situations that the reader can follow. Steinbeck uses the Grapes of Wrath to protest the surroundings of his time. During the Great Depression, the workers are at the mercy of the owners. Farmers are taken away form their land due to a lack of profit and are forced to become transient wage earners whose lives depend on the bourgeois- the Joads exemplify this. The manipulation of labor is evident in The Grapes of Wrath. The suppliers control "Supply and demand". Those who are seeking jobs in California have been under the impression that California is a land of never-ending job opportunities. When the family arrives, however, it is evident that the handbills that offer jobs were misleading. ...read more.


Tom learns in this in the following chapter, chapter 6. Once in California, the workers find adversity not only from the landowners, but also from the common man in California. The people of California are afraid of another revolution occurring, similar to the previous revolution of hungry American squatters, who took the area by storm, quarreling over Mexican land. The Mexicans could not resist them, for they wanted nothing in the world as much as the squatters wanted this land. Their parsimonious descendents now own the land and guard the land with security guards and keep their income from decreasing by offering unjust wages to their employees. These landowners hated the Okies. "Okies- the owners hated them because the owners knew they were soft and Okies strong, that they were fed and the Okies hungry; and perhaps the owners had heard from their grandfathers how easy it is to steal land from a soft man if you are fierce and hungry and armed" (300). The Okies, on their part only ask for fair wages and freedom from starvation. They are indeed hungry for a chance to work and provide for their families, but the Californian land owners, being scared, ask of the police force to keep the Okies from settling and organizing by disturbing all of the camps they set up, their Hoovervilles. ...read more.


Early in the novel, Ma Joad sees possibilities for revolution. "Tommy, don't you go fightin' 'em alone. They'll hunt you down like a coyote. Tommy, I got to thinkin' and dreamin' and wonderin'. They say there's a hun'erd thousand of us shoved out. If we was all mad the same way, Tommy-they wouldn't hunt nobody down-." (p. 105) Steinbeck employs Jim Casy as the social conscience who embodies this belief. Steinbeck continues to suggest that the workers should unite and create unions for labor. The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that Steinbeck uses to promulgate his opinions and suggests alternatives and motivates lower class to unite and be motivated by their surroundings to push against the current and defeat the upper class. The alternating chapters produce the intended result, leaving no room for interpretation. The usually odd-numbered chapters that encompass whole ideas are used to create universality, while the even numbered Joad chapters provide particularity. The microcosmic chapters are used by Steinbeck to give the reader a feel of emotion. The migrant family creates plenty of emotion as they make their way to California, taking every adverse obstacle in stride. The Joad family personifies this and thus produces a timeless classic out of John Steinbeck's narrative-turned-novel. ...read more.

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