The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath gravitates towards being a story of the unusual. This is due to the events that occurred during that period. Some negative occurrences that had not been experienced in Oklahoma and Texas took place. There was excessive soil erosion through the “Dust Bowl”, which resulted to a severe drought.  The people affected had to move to California in search of ‘greener pastures’. Upon reaching California, their plight continued due to labor exploitation, which was as a result of an oversupply of the workforce. There was also open hostility from the locals. The people were trying to seek refuge, and they ended up in more misery.

Our popular culture tends to go in this direction of the unusual. This aspect is more prevalent news media, movies, and books among others. A good example to demonstrate this notion is how horror movies came to rise. It was unusual since it was fueled by a negative occurrence, which was the Great Depression. There is a connection between the two. Before Roosevelt came with the new deal, America was experiencing a very dark period. People were losing their farms, homes, and money. The American horror film was not known before 1931. That is the period when “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” were among the best grossing movies (Beckerman 1). These types of movies became popular since they reflected the fears that Americans had during this period.

Another aspect that demonstrates the concept of the unusual direction is the news media. Anyone that is fond of watching news, regardless of the outlet involved can attest that most of the things being reported are usually negative. This is because “bad news” tends to sell more compared to “good news” (Iggers 51). This is why there will always be news about natural disasters, poverty, deaths, terrorism among others at all times. This is quite unusual because it would be expected for good news to be embraced more than the bad news.

The Grapes of Wrath’s has used a narrow vision, and this somewhat diminishes the story it tells. The narration has concentrated on the Joad family. However, the dynamics and structure of California’s agricultural labor were far more complex compared to how the story suggested it in a tale that involved the tribulations of a single family. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck ignored the darker sides involved in that complexity. To a greater extent, he perceived the Okies as victims in this case and not the victimizers.  The Okies were actually earning more than the minorities that they had displaced. Steinbeck was of the opinion that the government should give the Joads more than a handout. This meant that he was advocating for a revolution that would enact an America for small farmers. One thing that Steinbeck failed to understand was that the ideals he advocated for only applied to White Americans. They became more irrelevant due to the type of industrial agriculture that was transforming America at the time.


Works Cited

Beckerman, Jim. Great Depression Fueled the Rise of Horror Films. N.p., 26     Oct. 2011. Web. 07 June 2016.

Iggers, Jeremy. Good News, Bad News: Journalism Ethics and the Public Interest. Westview,       2011. Print.

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