People wonder how a human would change when his/her surroundings change. Will they change for the better or worse? Will they still be willing to go out of their way to help those how are around them? John Steinbeck shows us in The Grapes of Wrath how a person can change when they have nothing. He shows us how when people are desperate, they would do anything to further themselves and only themselves. Most of all, he shows us how greed overpowers anything and everything when times are desperate. This motif assists in developing a major theme in the book. It shows that people would be greedy to other human beings, that people would damage nature in order to advance themselves and that people wouldn't help their own family to help further themselves.
Even though everyone during the Great Depression was suffering, everyone only thought of themselves without ever contemplating of the others situation or satisfying both parties at the same time. This is most evident when the tractor plowed right through farmers' property, even when the drivers themselves, were farmers. Most farmers became tractor drivers because they “got to think of [their] own kids” and it pays “three dollars a day[...]every day” (48). The tractor driver here is clearly thinking of his own situation and is completely dismissing the fact that the Joads would be losing a place to live and property they can call their own. He simply suggests that the Joads should go to California because there is work available there. What the tractor driver doesn't realize is that the people of California wouldn't appreciate the arrival of the 'Okies' because, they too, want to be on the receiving end instead of the giving end and simply further themselves to help provide for their families. The selfishness of the tractor driver overruled his conscience, he knew that what he was doing would hugely affect other families, but he clearly had the “as long as it isn't me” attitude about it. As long as his family was provided for that night, as long as they had a place to sleep, it didn't matter who else would get the short end of the stick.
Another instance where greed is evident is which the used car salesman. When he is selling cars he wants to be done with his customers as soon as possible. He knows that most people are buying cars so they can head off to California so he decides to “start 'em at two hundred and work down” (79). He knowingly sells those poor farmers overpriced cars and later on raises his expectations. He starts off by wanting one jalopy to wishing that he possessed five hundred jalopies. He cheats those who want a better life for themselves and their families to gain money for his own selfish needs and desires. Once a farmer tries to negotiate with the salesman, the salesman is baffled and disgusted that he would dare to do so. Steinbeck shows that man would do anything to advance themselves at the expense of others.
Not only would people sacrifice others for their own...