John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury

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John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and William Faulkner’s novel, The Sound and the Fury Throughout history, many devastating economic, social, and environmental changes have occurred causing people to rise and overcome immense odds. In the 1930s, The Great Depression and the Dustbowl Disaster, a drought with horrific dust storms turning once-fertile agricultural lands of mid-America into virtual wastelands, forced thousands of destitute farmers to pack their families and belongings into their cars in search of agricultural work in central California. Years of degradation stemming from the end of slavery beginning at the conclusion of the Civil War destructed the old southern aristocratic families. These different external influences impact on the characters is seen in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and William Faulkner’s novel, The Sound and the Fury. Steinbeck illustrates and advocates drastic external changes in the economy and life style of the downtrodden migrants, as he follows the Joad family from Oklahoma to California. Faulkner depicts the decline of the aristocratic south through the eyes of the Compson children. The external changes, The Great Depression and the Dustbowl, affected the Joads economically and emotionally. By economic standards the Joads were poor before the Dust Bowl. However, they believed they had economic value and importance by working their own 40 acres of land. “Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here… Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised”(Steinbeck 45). Losing the farm, being forced to leave their home in a search of work, meant the loss of their social values. To the Joads, value and life importance rest in working the land and this ideology of the past made their emotional adjustment to being a wondering, an “Okie,” even more difficult. "The moving, questing people were migrants now. Those families which had lived on a little piece of land, who had lived and died on forty acres, had now the whole West to rove in. And they scampered about, looking for work; and the highways were streams of people, and the ditch banks were lines of people.

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