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Analysis Of Four Types Of Conflict In John Steinbeck's "The Grapes Of Wrath", Man Versus Man, Man Versus Nature, Man Versus Society, And Man Versus Himself.

1487 words - 6 pages

In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, the journey of the Joad family is riddled with conflict. The family experiences all of the four major types of conflicts: man vs. himself, man vs. society, man vs. nature, and man vs. man. In the case of The Grapes of Wrath, "man" represents the Joad family as a single unit. They experience conflict within the family itself, with the society they are coming from as well as the one they are going to, and with nature and the elements. The man vs. man conflict is usually just a more specific example of one of the other areas of conflict.The most prevalent conflict in the novel is man vs. society. The first example is the Joads being forced off their land in Oklahoma. The corporations are becoming bigger in America, and are driving all the small farmers off of their land. "One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families" (Steinbeck, 44). This causes a conflict because the Joads are being forced to leave the land their familes have lived on for generations. A second conflict between the Joads and society starts when they leave their farm for the west. Almost immediately after they leave Oklahoma, they start to feel out of place, and later are directly ostracized by people in the west, who start calling them "Okies", and making their lives worse in any way possible. "Them goddamn Okies got no sense and no felling. They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than gorillas" (301). This quote shows the incredibly low opinion the people in the west held of the people emigrating from the Midwest.The quest for work shows another aspect of the Joad family's conflict with society in the west. There is such a poor balance of workers to work, that even if they are lucky enough to find work, it will barely pay enough to feed their family. But the problem isn't a shortage of food, it's that the economy is so poorly balanced, that the food can't effectively get from the farms to the starving people."Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit-and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country" (476-477).This quote shows how a refusal to cooperate from both sides keeps the conditions in western society horribly imbalanced. This spawns a perpetual conflict between the Joad family and the society in the west based on hunger.The final example of conflict between man and society is seen when Jim Casy is killed. Casy is trying to be a leader in reforming the way the economy in the west is working, to help spread the food to the...

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