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Comparing The Grapes Of Wrath And The Power Of One

1777 words - 7 pages

Comparing The Grapes of Wrath and The Power of One

"Two heads are better than one," it's always been said. But is another person always valuable, or can extra baggage keep an individual from achieving his goals? Both sides can be argued effectively, and both may be true depending on the circumstances. Two historical novels, The Grapes of Wrath and The Power of One, show how two sets of characters took different routes to achieve their goals and how they fared along the way. In The Grapes of Wrath, The Joads, a family of penniless migrant workers, travel to California to look for work, depending on the help of assorted strangers along the way, while The Power of One tells the story of Peekay, a young South African boy growing up alone in a hostile world bent on destroying his chances of success. The books portray very different views on life that are equally valid and convincing; while The Grapes of Wrath is a tale that emphasizes the power that can be achieved in numbers and the consequences of trying to survive alone, The Power of One is a testimony to the things one person can achieve when he is forced to depend on and trust in himself only.

    The Joads, after they are forced to vacate their farm in Oklahoma, decide to pack all of their belongings and make the voyage to California, where there is supposedly so much work that everyone can make a living. But along the way, they quickly run into trouble. They have little money, an unreliable vehicle, a truckload of people to feed, and miles to go before they reach their destination. The Joads quickly discover something that becomes a major theme throughout the book: cooperating with others to achieve a common goal is sometimes necessary for survival. From the author's point of view, the poor migrant workers only have a chance to succeed if they combine forces and share what they have. This is also the greatest fear of the wealthy landowners, who do everything in their power to keep the workers from organizing. The author, John Steinbeck, writes, "For here `I lost my land' is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate - `We lost our land.' The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one"(206;Ch. 14). This is why, in the government camp where the Joads stay for a while once they get to California, the landowners try to set up a fight so police can be brought in when they weren't allowed before. The government camp represents, in the most tangible way shown in the novel, the positive results of organization and working together to achieve something. The government camp is completely independent of the system outside its walls - the people take care of each other and make their own rules. This is the place where quality of life is best for the Joads. Jim Rawley, the camp manager, comments on the hard work of the people when speaking to Ma Joad: "They keep the camp clean, they keep order, they do...

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