A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
Note the differences between the federal and the state governments. Oppression comes from state police, while a federal agency runs government camps where migrants live decently and with self-respect.
Another fact to consider is that The Grapes of Wrath describes conditions that have changed in the decades since the 1930s. Therefore, you'd probably have no reason to keep it off the shelf anymore.
Still another approach to consider is that the book may contain nothing worth hiding. In fact, the Joads could well represent what's good about America. They possess courage, determination, generosity, and ruggedness- all qualities that we like to think define the American spirit.
14. The banks hate the sharecroppers, the Californians hate the migrants, the migrants hate their poverty. Readers sympathetic to Steinbeck's point of view may end up hating banks, police officers, landowners, shopkeepers, and anyone else who contributes to the migrants' plight. Surely, there's hatred in the novel. But simply because the novel contains examples of hatred, is it about hatred?
If so, it must be about other matters, too: love, courage, determination, socialism, prejudice, poverty, and much more.
The book makes frequent references, especially in Chapter 19, to a three-stage cycle of human emotions: 1. fear (Californians feared the migrants); 2. hatred (fear evolved into hatred); and 3. anger (the victims of hatred responded with anger). Reasonably, then, the book is about fear and anger as much as it is about hatred.
To claim that the book is solely about hatred may say more about the speaker than about the book.
15. The Okies have disappeared. The U.S. has a welfare system to keep even the poorest people from starving. Guards no longer stand at state borders to keep undesirables out. Labor unions protect workers and have become an accepted institution in American society. The Grapes of Wrath, therefore, has become an historical curiosity. That's one point of view.
Here's another: The Grapes of Wrath is more than a story about the Joads and their problems. The Joads represent all victims of oppression and poverty. They exemplify endurance and the will to survive. Ma is a mythic figure, the earth mother- nourishing, strong, and protective of her flock. Jim Casy symbolizes the good and moral man; Tom, the man of action who comes to the rescue when the people are in need. These are memorable characters who stand for values held as dear today as they were in 1939.
Until prejudice, deprivation, anger, and frustration are wiped out, we'll need books
like The Grapes of Wrath to inspire us and to help us maintain our faith in humanity.
© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc. Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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