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Term Paper On Unionism In The Grapes Of Wrath

1973 words - 8 pages

Dmytruk PAGE 6
Dmytruk, OleksandrEnglish 8 HonorsMs.Leyow26 May 2010Forgotten StruggleThe period before the Great Depression was known as the "dark age" for the unions throughout the United States. During this time, monopolies took a center stage in the national life to cover the actual labor misery behind the scenes. In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, the family of migrant farmers is used to penetrate the forgotten struggle of American labor. It serves as a corner stone to remind the public of the true history. It is the past where a common man was left in shreds to stay by himself. One of the critical elements is union organization for the common interest in an age where business is united under centralized patronages. Therefore, the novel is the window into the past, illustrating the idea of unity as a resort against tyranny and monopoly. The struggle between the large business and organized labor is an extensive aspect of American history in the 1930's; this unfair battle was lost in time, but it has to be uncovered in order to serve as a reminder of the brutal past.Throughout the early 20th century, the organized labor was viewed as a part of a radical agenda. Starting with the Russian Revolution, labor organizers and their followers were associated with the Communist take over. Unions such as Cannery, Agriculture, and Industrial Workers Union were falsely accused of conspiracy and anarchy, "[the] strike …led to the arrest of 14 CAIWU leaders in Sacramento in July 1934…," (Migration News 2). One example of similar treatment is seen in the argument between a migrant farmer called Floyd Knowles from the novel and a deputy. In this manner Floyd Knowles is used as an example to demonstrate false accusations that were placed on migrants by the police authority," 'F you'd like to go in too, you jus' open your trap once more," (Steinbeck 339). Through the line, the brutal practice of injustice towards individual workers is shown even by the police force. This is a sign that the picketers to the order were radicals, but their goal was a simple justice towards economic ventures. This gives more support to the corporations as "monsters" who keep people separate by sabotaging the unity in organized labor. The term "reds" described those who tried to put the idea of unity to the public.In the novel, Steinbeck tries to shows this concept that large business used to justify intervening with possible signs of organized labor. The priest named Jim Casy was accused to be an activist by the private security, "[you] red son-of-a-bitch," (Steinbeck 495). It was an excuse used to stop the movement and a change in the history of Western United States. Especially, the Hoovervilles were targeted as a result of such strategy: "Citizens angered at red agitators, burned squatters' camp," (Steinbeck 379). The media worked closely in the influence of corporations in order to place an image of revolutionaries on the migrant farmers in the novel and...

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