Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath, chronicles the Joad’s family exodus from Oklahoma to California in search for a brighter, economic future. The name Joad and the exodus to California is parallel to the Biblical story of Exodus and the character Job, but at the time was depicting the Okie Exodus. The Okies were farmers whose topsoil blew away due to dust storms and were forced to migrate along Route 66 to California in search of work. The Okies were resented for migrating in large numbers to areas in the West where work was already hard to find and the sudden multitude of workers caused wages to be lowered. The Joad’s reside in Oklahoma, referred to as the “Dust Bowl” of the U.S. because of its lack of rain. The story takes place during the late 1930’s when the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. The Joad family were sharecroppers evicted from their homes because they failed to pay the bank their loan payments to the Shawnee Land and Cattle Company. On their journey, the Joad’s ran into a returning migrant from California who tells them that the handbill they have looking for 800 pickers is a bunch of hogwash. He’d rather starve in Oklahoma then starve in California. The migrant scolds them on their naivety saying “Now, how many of you all got them handbills?...(The men respond that they all have them) There you are, same yellow handbill. 800 Pickers Wanted. All right, the man wants 800 men, so he prints 5,000 handbills and maybe 20,000 people see 'em. And maybe two or three thousand people start West on account of that handbill. Two or three thousand people that are crazy with worry headin' out for 800 jobs. Now does that make sense?” He tells them that the growers are exploiting them, causing a surplus of workers to drive down labor costs according to supply and demand. The significance of his role in the movie, is that he let’s the Joad’s know everything they are moving West for is false. Their journey is based on a lie, and the grass isn’t greener on the other side. While stopping for gas, Mr. Joad heads into the diner to buy a loaf of bread. Mr. Joad is a nickel short of the 15 cents that the bread cost, and against the waitresses opinion the chef tells her to sell it to him for a dime.

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