Selfishness In The Grapes Of Wrath

2239 words - 9 pages

Indeed, one can clearly see that these two terms, selfishness and giving, converge towards two opposite sides of human life. It is in this regard that Steinbeck points to the fact that the migrants' great suffering is caused not only by bad weather or simple misfortune, but also by the attitude and behaviors of their fellow human beings. Steinbeck's work is supported by his experience that he amplifies in order to denounce the secret pain of a community who is victim of self-interest, crime, dishonesty and extreme search of profit. As one can notice in The Grapes of Wrath, these acts cause farmers' migration towards unknown countries in which they think as the favorable place to find a solution to their problems. Thus, migrant farmers found at their great surprise a city in which competition, insincerity, lack of consideration for others and excessive quest for material comfort are the main behaviors.
In other words, an intense individualism resulting from an extreme greediness was the source of all evils that American society had endured during the thirties. In fact, Steinbeck shows how the American materialism is so terrible in our country, we're used to being considered as a reference. This extreme materialism makes people heartless because rich landowners exploit small farmers. Thus, farmers are paid so lowly wages that they can survive and keep on working for wealthy property-owners.
It is significant to remark that through The Grapes of Wrath, the structure of the urban setting favors also the landlords to the impairment of migrant farmers. This is quite reminiscent of the thirties when the capitalists lived in the most attractive and breathtaking places, whereas the poor farmers dwelt in unlikely places. This brings about a feeling of inferiority, but also of frustration among the farmers downgraded to a lower status. Thus, most of them lived in poverty and in the fringe of society like Rose of Sharon Joad, who starts imagining about the attractive things that seem elusive to her and cannot help finding optimistic ways to acquire the comparable privileges as the rich landowners (p 180). Having been oppressed for a long time by rich people, poor farmers are desirous of reversing the miserable condition into which they are inhumanely plunged.
In The Pearl, the Doctor is cut off from his social norm. He is morally corrupted when he sets his heart on having money. This indecent and acquisitive behavior is also visible through the Priest who turns a blind eye to the moral values. The Doctor, just like the pearl-buyers and the priest, brashly adopt unfair procedures to get money. The horrible thing is that they all grow into deviants and intentionally ignore the social norms. Extreme yearning of social success can be compared with self-destruction. In other words, wealth, instead of bringing happiness, jeopardizes one's life. This fact is noticeable through the dialogue between Kino and his wife, Juana, “Kino, this pearl is evil. Let us...

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