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Midterm Paper - Book Report/Review Example

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Name Subject Professor Date Steinbeck and Odets on Communism “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck depicts the turmoil and ruin of the lives of the poor Salinas Valley workers in California. The book tells a story in two ways. First, it is the story of how a family is unsettled by and reacts to serious problems threatening to destroy the solidity of the household…
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Download file to see previous pages... However, what happens here is that the dust bowl and poverty destroys the lives of many to the point that nothing else matters other than to look for a more decent life somewhere in the west. For the regular workers depicted in the book, all that matters is getting a new life. In one scenario, Ma says, “I tol’ Granma we couldn’ he’p her. The fambly had ta get acrost. I tol’ her, tol’ her when she was a-dyin’. We couldn’ stop in the desert...The fambly hadda get acrost.” (Bloom 137). What is totally an attention-grabber is the way communism skulks quietly in the background, threatening to overtake the current situation, if the common people get pushed too far. The book showcases the abject poverty and degradation experienced by immigrants who merely try to get through the harsh realities of American capitalism. The landed and the rich owners of the means of production keep the immigrant workers from improving their dire situation. It also demonstrates how the lives of these regular people are worthy of respect and dignity just like the rich do. Their sacrifices for each other form a utopia-like community in the midst of their journey for a hopefully better life in California while they are barely able to sustain their daily survival needs. Society is reformed among the migrants every night --- murder, cruelty, and lust breakout, implicit rules of charity and privacy come forth, and social leaders are picked.  However, the narrative is still loaded with depictions on how, with the powerful against the powerless, even this utopia-like community, is flawed. Ideally speaking, this night-founded communities exuded a sense of community and brotherhood, which is a striking contrast to the realities on the migrants’ daily lives. Steinbeck says “These grew up government in the worlds, with leaders, with elders. A man who was wise found that his wisdom was needed in every camp; a man who was a fool could not change his folly in this world. And a kind of insurance developed in these nights. A man with food fed a hungry man, and thus insured himself against hunger” (Bloom 102). The sacrificing, respectable, and collective lives of the migrants are depicted against a backdrop of distant, powerful, and harsh business owners who cruelly lord over the migrant workers with indifference to their plights. The communist or socialist perspective is portrayed as a way of offering the migrants a better life; not suffer the constant migration due to the power of the business owners or work for almost nothing due to high number of supply of available labor from the migrants. In a scene where Timothy was talking to Thomas about wage reduction: “Do you know who runs the Farmers’ Association? I’ll tell you. The Bank of the West. That bank owns most of this valley, and it’s got paper on everything it don’t own. So last night the member from the bank told me, he said, ‘You’re paying thirty cents an hour. You’d better cut it down to twenty-five.’ I said, ‘I’ve got good men. They’re worth thirty.’ And he says, ‘It isn’t that,’ he says. ‘The wage is twenty-five now’” (Bloom 106). Therefore, it is sort of saying that the migrants can never improve their lives because the business owners or their employers are continuously subjugating them. This is a very Marxian analysis of capitalism. As a conclusion, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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