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Humility In The Grapes Of Wrath

766 words - 4 pages

Ever wanted to use humility to accomplish something or anything. Well a man from The Grapes of Wrath made the perfect example. In the excerpt from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, there is man who needs to buy ten cents worth of bread, but Mae, a waitress who works at the diner, does not want to sell the bread because they need it. For further understanding of the book, John Steinbeck wrote this to depict how socialism and communism could benefit the migrant farm workers in California. I believe the man's constant tone of humility influences Mae's behavior to change towards him and his two little boys from selfishness to sympathy.
At the beginning of the excerpt, the man and his sons arrive at the diner with “curious humility.” This type of humility means a strange and unexplainable way of humility. When the man arrives at the diner he asks Mae, “Could you see your way to sell us a loaf of bread, ma'am?” The man clearly just wants a loaf of bread. Mae responds, “This ain't a ...view middle of the document...

Steinbeck's use of this word explains the man's humility as continuous and persistent. Examples of the man's insistent humility is shown in everything he says in the excerpt. One example is after Mae asks, “Whyn't you buy a san'widge? We got nice san'widges, hamburgs.” The man replies embarrassedly, “We'd sure admire to do that, ma'am. But we can't. We got to make a dime do all of us. We ain't got but a little.” The actions the man proposed was calm to show his determination to get what he needs for his family. Mae's behavior towards them is slowly changing while the man's humility is staying constant. This shows a change in Mae's behavior because when the man replied to Mae's question, she realizes their problem. The man's humility in this situation is significant because after all the rude replies Mae had to offer, the man stood patient.
Towards the end Steinback mentions the man's humility as “inflexible.” What he means is his humility is never-changing. At the end of the excerpt the Mae sold him the fifteen cents worth of bread for ten cents. Not because she wanted to but because she was told to by someone else. When the man took out his leather pouch heavy with silver and greasy bills, he reached for a dime and took took it out with a penny. Before he was about to put the penny back in his pouch he looked at his two sons and asked, “Is them penny candy, ma'am?” While Mae is looking at the poor little boys, she says, “Oh-them. Well, no-them's two for a penny.” The man's humility is truly amazing. Mae's behavior completely changed to from selfishness to sympathy. The change in Mae's behavior shows that she really does care and is willing to lie to help them out. The man's persistent humility causes Mae to feel sympathy and to understand their struggle.
In conclusion, the man's assertive humility is able to change the behavior of Mae from indulgence to understanding. From the beginning Mae's behavior was rude and slowly changing after every single response the man had to say. The man's insistent humility showed his confidence in doing what is needed to be done. This allowed the man to change Mae's behavior towards them and to accomplish buying bread for his family. You can learn a lot from this man's humility.

Works Cited

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 1992.

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