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Historical Analysis Of The Grapes Of Wrath

1548 words - 7 pages

The Grapes of Wrath displays one of America’s greatest stumbles during the establishment of our country. The story follows a family hit with the struggles of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Drought, economic hardship, agricultural changes, and bank foreclosures rip the Joads from the quaint town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, forcing them to take the dreadful journey across the country. Nevertheless, the Joads drag their feet along the trodden path, dragged on by an unassured perseverance. The Joads were driven by a burning fire of desperation, grounded by the hope promised by orange handbills laden with the deceitful lies of the rapacious. For the hopeless seek hope, an elusive destiny ...view middle of the document...

Many farmers had moved from the humid climate of eastern United States to the mostly uncharted territory of the Great Plains. A great number of them were uninformed of the climate conditions of the Great Plains, but were encouraged by many "Boosters" who promised agricultural prosperity. The first couple of years were very encouraging as the farmers had migrated during a wet season. Overall, they produced a massive amount of crops, severely affecting prices. This increased the need for farmers to drive up their production rate in order to make the same amount of money as before. New farming equipment, crop varieties, and additional land plots were an effective incentive to achieve these goals. Most of these things were purchased on credit by farmers who were confident of their ability to successfully pay the debt off later. This wishful thinking only lead to no good. In the late 1920s, the stock market crash severely affected nation's economy. To make matters worse, there was a severe drought throughout the Great Plains that brought all agricultural production to a hault. Farmers could no longer pay back their debts and the only people who could make any real progress were the large company farms with the ability to successfully pay off their debts. The now destitute farmers began to pack up what little they had to begin their journey to California on Route 66, encouraged by handbills promising hundreds of jobs that worked in California's flourishing fields. Now, this trek was especially hazardous because of discouraging factors such as unreliable means of transportation, little to no food, water, and money, and expensive camping stops. Also many felt a lingering unassurance that suggested the handbills were merely stories sold to the thousands of unemployed people in the Great Plains to create wealth for the select few companies who owned the California land. When many arrived in California, they found this story to be true. Many companies sent out those handbills to intentionally bring in an overabundance of workers. The great demand for jobs allowed the companies to lower their wages to a point where a full time job could not provide even a small family with the most basic needs. This evil scheme created by wealthy landowners caused a great amount of suffering, and many Californians began to hate the “Okies” who came and took away their jobs. Eventually, the cry for help was answered. Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted a New Deal program that erased many problems associated with the Great Depression. Although, this did help, many families were still scarred by the events that took place during the 1930s. ("The Great Depression."; National Drought Mitigation Center, "Drought in the Dust Bowl Years"; Morain, Tom, "The Great Depression Hits Farms and Cities in the 1930s"; Fanslow, Robin A, "The Migrant Experience")
In Steinbeck’s novel, he accurately tells this story in such a way that no previous knowledge of the Great Depression is required. His...

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