The Grapes of Wrath: Comparing Book and Movie
Ford attempted to establish a sense of historical context by inserting two paragraphs of prose on the screen immediately following the opening credits:
' In the central part of the United States of America lies a limited area called 'the Dust Bowl', because of its lack of rains. Here drought and poverty combined to deprive many farmers from their land.
This is the story of one farmer's family, driven from their fields by natural disasters and economic changes beyond anyone's control and their great journey in search of peace, security, and another home.'
In its description of a '' limited area called 'the Dust Bowl', 'the prose serves to limit the scope of the tragedy about to be witnessed to a specific, isolated part of the nation. The simple past tense used in the final sentence of the first paragraph underscores a feeling that this is all over by the time of the film, 1940. The second paragraph prepares us not for Steinbeck's picture of failure on a national scale but for the story of 'one's farmer's family' who are victims of changes ' beyond anyone's control', and who will set out on a heart-rending journey ' in search of peace, security, and another home.'
One can already notice in this opening lines of the film that the director's attempted to carefully avoid attaching specific blame in this potentially controversial film. The possibility of social change wrought by violent by violent conflict suggested in the novel will not even be hinted at.
The movie only focuses on the Joads, a migrant family from the Dust Bowl region, while the novel's focus shifts from the Joads to the situation of all the migrants who went to California in the 1930s. In the interchapters of the novel the fate of many migratory workers is described. Moreover, Steinbeck provides the reader with a detailed picture of the historical background of the 1930s: he describes the dust storms, the expulsion of the farmers from their homes, the tractors who destroy their farms, Route 66, the major migrant road to California, the reception of the so called 'Okies' in California. In these interchapters Steinbeck also criticizes the way tenant farmers are treated and the way powerful, rich people exploit the poor migrants.
The novel's interchapters and the different focus of novel and movie
The film version excluded many small episodes from the novel, among them episodes showing unfair business practices. The complaint about the unfair practices of used-car salesmen; the argument with the camp owner about overcharging; the depiction of the company-store credit racket, the dishonest scales on the fruit ranch; and even the practice, an the part of an otherwise sympathetic luncheon proprietor, of taking the jackpots from his slot machines - none of these was ever proposed for the shooting script.
These episodes appear in the so called interchapters...