The Pain of the Okies Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath Essay

The Pain of the Okies Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath Essay

Length: 1497 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Pain of the Okies Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath

    The Dust bowl was an ecological and human disaster in the Southwestern Great Plains regions of the United States in the 1930's. The areas affected were Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. The poor handling of the land and years of drought caused this great disaster (Jones "History"). During this time the "Okies"--a name given to the migrants that traveled from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, or anywhere in the Southwest or the northern plains to California--encountered many hardships. These hardships are brilliantly shown in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Scholars agree, "The most important fact about the dust storms was not scientific but human: their tragic effect upon people seeking livelihood on the stricken Midwestern farms" (French 4). Steinbeck believed society was inhumane to the Okies and through his novel we can account for how the Okies were treated. By looking at Steinbeck's own personal background and information from historical commentaries we are better able to grasp his reasoning for writing the novel because he understood what it was like to grow up as a farmer, and an outsider. More importantly, however, we are able to share in his compassion for the Okies.


To fully understand Steinbeck's reasoning for writing the novel it is important to look at his family and where he grew up. John Ernst Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas California. His parents were middle-class people who played many roles in the community and cultural life. His father worked as a manager of a flourmill, and his mother taught in a one-room rural school (Swisher 13).


As a child John Steinbeck was shy, and kids often teased him ...

... middle of paper ...

...tions. Reading this book can help us comprehend how close their present is to our past.



Work Cited

French, Warren, ed. A Companion to The Grapes of Wrath. New Jersy: Augustus M. Kelley, 1972.

Hinton, Rebecca. "Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath." Explicator 56 (1990). 11 Sept. 2000<http://ehostvgw1.ep...20%22%Grapes%20of%220Wrath%22%20&fuzzyTerm=>

Jones, Andrew. "Charity of the Poor." Analysis of The Grapes of Wrath. N.D. Accessed: 7 Sept. 2000 <>

Jones, Andrew. "History of the Dust Bowl." Background History for The Grapes of Wrath. N.D. Accessed: 7 Sept. 2000<http:///>

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking, 1967.

Swisher, Clarice,ed. Readings on John Steinbeck. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Greed Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath

- Greed Exposed in The Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that was written by John Steinbeck. This novel explores the predicaments that families faced in the "Dust Bowl" of Western America. The story shows how the Joad families, like many other families, were made to leave their homes because big business took over and the little man was left to fend for himself. Times were changing and families had to adjust even if that meant starting a whole different life in a brand new place....   [tags: The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck]

Free Essays
1445 words (4.1 pages)

The Dust Bowl in John Steinbeck´s The Grapes of Wrath Essay

- ... The Californians fear the Okies lack of civilized social standards. In order for the Okies to survive, they forgo basic sanitary needs in return for food and work. The families struggle to hold on to a sophisticated life; instead they become simple folks with simple needs. The Okies sacrifice the privileges of a luxurious life for the only life they can afford on less than a few dollars a day. Along with this, the lack of jobs and the despair the families face alter their behavior, showing the raw survival instinct within....   [tags: Okies, Migrant, Workers]

Powerful Essays
840 words (2.4 pages)

Grapes of Wrath Essay: Prejudice Against Immigrants Exposed

- The Grapes of Wrath: The Californians Prejudice Against Immigrants Prejudice is a strong word. It is the kind of word that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. One of Steinbeck's themes in the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is the prejudice against the migrant workers by the financially established Californians. Steinbeck provides four clear examples of prejudice; the man whose children died of starvation, the fishing story, the California police officer and the history of the Californians....   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Free Essays
821 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Okies and the Hardships of the Dust Bowl

- The Dust Bowl was the name given to the Great Plains area in the 1930s. Much of the region was an agricultural area and relied on it for most of their economy. Combined with The Great Depression and the dust storms, farmers in the Great Plains area were severely hurt. These farmers were seeking opportunity elsewhere near the Pacific where they were mistreated by the others already there. The mistreatment is a form of disenfranchisement, by excluding and segregating a group of people from the rest of society....   [tags: Great Plains, Agricultural Area, Economy]

Powerful Essays
891 words (2.5 pages)

Grapes of Wrath Essay: Naturalism in The Grapes of Wrath

- Naturalism in The Grapes of Wrath In John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family and the changing world in which they live is portrayed from a naturalistic point of view. Steinbeck characterizes the Joads and their fellow migrants as simple, instinct-bound creatures who are on an endless search for paradise (Owens 129). The migrants and the powers which force them to make their journey--nature and society--are frequently represented by animals. The Joads, when they initially leave home, are a group of simplistic, animal-like people who barely understand or even realize their plight, but as the story progresses, they begin to grow and adapt to their new circumsta...   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Free Essays
1414 words (4 pages)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Essay

- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck What does it take for one to achieve the American dream. What kinds of struggles does one need to overcome to achieve their goals in life. In the classic novel The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, you can follow the Joad family in the pursuit to their dreams and the difficulties they faced and overcame. The Joad family faced numerous conflicts including; men, society, nature, and him/herself but overcame many to keep pushing them towards their dream; to go to California and find a better life....   [tags: Steinbeck Grapes Wrath]

Free Essays
1007 words (2.9 pages)

Free Grapes of Wrath Essays: Steinbeck's Political Agenda

- Political Agenda in The Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath is a movie that was originally a novel by John Steinbeck that exposes the desperate conditions under which the migratory farm families of America during the 1930's live. The movie tells of one family that migrates west to California through the great economic depression of the 1930's. The Joad family had to abandon their home and their livelihoods. They had to uproot and set adrift because tractors were rapidly industrializing their farms along with the erosion of topsoil to create "the Dust Bowl"....   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Free Essays
574 words (1.6 pages)

Grapes of Wrath Essay: Steinbeck's Communist Manifesto

- The Grapes of Wrath as a Communist Manifesto          Steinbeck's political views are quite evident within The Grapes of Wrath. The subject of much controversy, The Grapes of Wrath serves as a social protest and commentary. Steinbeck's views as expressed through the novel tie directly into the Marxist ideals on communism.   Perhaps the first thing Steinbeck does in The Grapes of Wrath is establish the status quo. He sets up the farmers and the banks as the two main opposing forces. "Lord and serf......   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Powerful Essays
1066 words (3 pages)

Free Grapes of Wrath Essays: Religion in The Grapes of Wrath

- Religion in The Grapes of Wrath In The Grapes of Wrath the author, John Steinbeck, presents religion in several ways including the fanaticism of the Sin Watchers, Jim Casy’s parallel character to Jesus Christ, and through the use of symbolism throughout the novel. Through these methods, Steinbeck weaves a web in which religion is presented as a double-edged blade; one can go to the path of being truly a devout, kind person, or one can choose the path of zealously, condemning all who would oppose or go against their views....   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Free Essays
457 words (1.3 pages)

Steinbeck's Style in The Grapes of Wrath Essay

- Different Styles in The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck used a lot of different styles in The Grapes of Wrath. He liked using language that was in keeping with his characters. He was also really big on symbolism. Steinbeck also used intercalary chapters to provide some of the background information. John Steinbeck must have loved using slang and natural dialect. All of his characters spoke with a very heavy accents. "Tell 'em ya dong's growed scence you los' your eye." (P. 180). Granted, this does add some realism....   [tags: Grapes Wrath essays]

Free Essays
487 words (1.4 pages)