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Steinbeck's Social Commentary in The Grapes of Wrath

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Social Commentary in The Grapes of Wrath


Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is a realistic novel that mimics life and offers social commentary too. It offers many windows on real life in midwest America in the 1930s. But it also offers a powerful social commentary, directly in the intercalary chapters and indirectly in the places and people it portrays. Typical of very many, the Joads are driven off the land by far away banks and set out on a journey to California to find a better life. However the journey breaks up the family, their dreams are not realized and their fortunes disappear. What promised to be the land of milk and honey turns to sour grapes. The hopes and dreams of a generation turned to wrath. Steinbeck opens up this catastrophe for public scrutiny.

            The novel is starkly realistic. With the Joads as they travel, we meet the dark underside of capitalism with its uncontrolled poverty, its inhuman greed and human cost, and sense a fractured trust between government and people. The underside cont...

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