The United States has, since it s founding, been a capitalistic society and its citizens have always been frightened of proponents of other -isms such as communism and socialism. This political climate made it difficult for socialists, such as John Steinbeck, to become popular writers. His book, Grapes of Wrath, was popular because, instead of promoting Socialist philosophies, he showed the faults of Capitalism. Steinbeck portrayed in his work his perceived faults of capitalism: It s ability to cause people to put monetary wealth above all else, make people angry, and drive people out of their homeland. Throughout the Grapes of Wrath people put monetary wealth before everything else.
As the novel begins, we see the Joads are being forced off their land by greedy banks. One of their neighbors chooses to forfeit his morals and plow his neighbor s farms and knock down their houses for three dollars a day. On their way to California, the Joads are witness to a few rare acts of kindness, such as the candy given to the children at a discounted price. Steinbeck includes that act to show that a capitalistic society isn t all-bad, but most of it is.
In California they hear about and see incredibly greedy acts. There are rumors of a man who runs a newspaper, William Randolph Hearst, who has a million acres that he doesn t let anyone farm. They hear about farmers destroying their excess crops in order to drive up prices while people all around them are dying of starvation and malnutrition. These acts beg the question, At what point does this greed become illegal? In a Communist or Socialist society, people who commit acts of greed that are that extreme would be punished by the government. Another theme of this book is anger. It is apparent even in the title.
Today in our country we share many components of freedom, liberty, equality, as well as conceptions of justice. This democratic way of life has brought many people feelings of pride, self worth, and prosperity. Although, according to libertarian John Hospers our democratic government, as well as many other governments across the world are unjust and are violating some of our most basic rights of ...
The Joads are angry in the beginning of the book because they are being forced off their land. Their involuntary pilgrimage, and the deaths it causes, makes them angry. The gas station attendant and junkyard manager are angry and Tom is so fed-up by all these angry, sulking people, that he chews them out. He tries to help them, but the reader gets the impression that his words went unheeded. Once the Joads arrive in California, they find that everyone is angry; the Californians are mad that all the unwanted okies are coming to spoil their state and the okies are mad because they were told they could find good paying jobs in California, but there aren t any. The Californians take out their anger on the makeshift settlements constructed by vagabonds.
They destroy their settlements and drive the okies out. The starving okies also see surplus food being destroyed for profit. This is probably the most angering event they had to endure. The migrants have no one to take their anger out on so it just ferments inside them.
This anger is incredibly hard to bear, especially for Ma Joad. She has seen her parent s in-law die, three of her sons leave her, her daughter s husband abandon his wife, and her daughter have a miscarriage. Through the use of inter chapters, Steinbeck is able to show the reader that there are thousands of people, just like the Joads, who have suffered because of capitalism. A capitalistic society tends to favor the well-educated upper class and not the poor uneducated working class. Because of this tendency, the poor end up having to work very hard and make sacrifices in order to make very little.
One of the sacrifices the Joads had to make was to move from their homeland due to the capitalistic views of the banks that owned their property. This migration killed grandma and grandpa Joad. They were forced from their land and it took away their will to live. The Joads have to sell everything they have that can t fit onto the truck and end up receiving eighteen dollars for it. Ma ends up burning the family mementos they did not sell.
John Steinbeck's Portrayal of Alcoholics Lila L. Anastas has said of John Steinbeck: "Steinbeck the person wanted ... to experience everything and then write about it. He was the versatile author of over thirty full-length books and short story collections, as well as plays, filmscripts, numerous articles, and volumes of letters. He received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962. In my view, he is ...
Having to do all that strips a family of any dignity it had and for what? Twenty-five cents an hour picking cotton and having to live in abandoned railroad cars? Steinbeck is able to illustrate that the rich prospering at the expense of the poor is the greatest atrocity in the system of capitalism. Steinbeck makes a convincing argument in favor of socialism and communism. But he overlooks one key fact that outweighs all those that are in favor of socialism and communism. That fact is no matter how little the workers were paid, how much they were mistreated, or what their living conditions were, they still had their freedom.
They had the freedom to do what they wanted to do. They could have stayed on the farm like Muley Graves, or ran tractors for three dollars a day, or they could have just given up and died on the side of the road. They had the freedom to make any of those choices, and if they were in a Socialist or Communist society, like Steinbeck would have preferred, they would not of had those inalienable rights provided for in our great country s constitution. 32 b.