The two novels, The Grapes of Wrath and Invisible Man, are evidently, two classic masterpieces that marvelously portray the social, economic and political turmoil that prevailed in the mid-20th century in America. Despite the obvious differences, the protagonist’s lives in these two novels are similarly affected by external forces.
Perhaps, the foremost similarities between these two novels are the protagonists’ desperate struggle for survival and how their dreams and hopes are shattered once they reach their destination. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads hope for a positive amendment in their lives and reach California, where their dreams and hopes become shattered. Similarly, in Invisible Man, the unnamed narrator reaches Harlem, where his dreams and hope of going back to his university and getting a degree becomes shattered. In brief, their desperate attempts to become socially significant are shattered.
These two American literatures could be noted for speaking about and exposing the various controversial issues. Ellison and Steinbeck express the feeling of the American society, regarding the social problems that they face, intending to evoke intense feelings from the readers. Both create many emotions and convey the true reality of the American society. They make the readers perceive the negative reality of their society.
Negative aspects of the societies that these two authors speak encompass racism, poverty and discrimination. In Invisible Man, Ellison makes the readers witness the scurrilous and irascible behavior of the white people to the black Americans. The inhuman behavior of the whites, resulting in the maltreatment of blacks. And in the case of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck makes the readers witness the discrimination of workers by the owners and the poverty that exists amongst these workers.
Another negative social element that is common between these two novels is, “Dispossession”. In Invisible Man, the black Americans are dispossessed from their homes. Ellison narrates a scene where the narrator, while walking on the streets, sees an old-couple getting dispossessed of their homes. All that they possessed in their lifetime end-up nothing but “a garbage”, because of the whites. And in The Grapes of Wrath, in the early chapters, Steinbeck narrates how the farmers are made to migrate from their lands and thus, made dispossessed.
The complete dominance of the whites and their desperate attempts to make the inferior community socially insignificant, are shown through this element of dispossession by these two authors. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads have been living in their place in Oklahoma for generations and in Invisible Man; the old couples have been living in their place for a lifetime. All that they possessed by earning during their lifetime are made worthless and pointless when they are dispossessed. In other words, their life was considered to be useless by the whites.
The lives of the people in...