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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

THE NOVEL OTHER ELEMENTS

POINT OF VIEW

Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath during the 1930s, a time of considerable social and economic upheaval in our country. The U.S. was trying to dig itself out of the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt, president at the time, inspired both undying love and fierce hatred by instituting several social-welfare programs. Most people either supported FDR or considered him an ogre.


Steinbeck belongs in the first group. He's pro-union, pro-welfare, pro-big government. And he tells the tale of the Joads with those biases right out front. We view the world through the eyes of the Joads or, in the interchapters, from the perspective of the mass of migrants. We never hear the other side of the story. Nearly every native Californian we meet is either a deputy, a guard, or a fearful citizen. California seems more like a fascist police state than a piece of the U.S.

Nevertheless, we don't have to think of The Grapes of Wrath as just a piece of propaganda, as some people say it is. While the book exposes abuse and suffering of a whole class of people, it also tells an uplifting story of courage and determination. The Joads, in the end, exemplify values that we like to think lie at the root of America's greatness.


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