Money— sweeter than honey but oh so destructive. It facilitates a man’s life, while a lack of it imprisons him in the streets of penury. It raises his social status, while an absence of it leaves him unnoticed. It gives him an aura of superiority and importance among others, while a deficiency of it makes him worthless in society’s eyes. Considering these two roads, most do not take more than a second to decide to chase riches.
Blinded by the self-destructive American dream of “Marie-Antoinette music-rooms and Restoration salons” and “toilet sets of pure dull gold” most murder their morals and harm others in the process (Fitzgerald 5.91). Whether rich or poor two things can be assured: the poor want to be rich and the rich do not want to be poor. The result is a “rotten crowd” that has not true value, for it demoralizes itself to prosper economically, not realizing that the crisp dollar bills will be worthless in its grave (Fitzgerald 8.154).
In the midst of economic depression, the thirst for wealth cannot be quenched; the need for copper coins is as persistent as snow in a Chicago winter. Desperate, hungry, and perhaps even angry, formers farmers during the 1930s, who have lost everything to the demonic dust and claws of the capitalist bank, take the easy road and become “part of the monster” that tore them apart from their homes, snatched every last bit of self-sustenance they clung to, and most importantly, destroyed the unity of their families (Steinbeck 5.48). They, without thinking twice, throw their ethics into the roaring flames, becoming nothing but puppets that crush others’ dreams, independence, and families.
The victims evolve into the aggressors, destroying the values they once treasured—all for “three dollars a day” (Steinbeck 5.50). Worst of all, they are incapable of admitting their actions are inhumane, that their actions leave “fifteen or twenty families [hungry]” (Steinbeck 5.50). Stubborn and passionate about becoming part of the prosperous capitalist economy (which is the tone Steinbeck carries out throughout The Grapes of Wrath), they forget about humility, honesty, and selflessness. The tone, along with the repetition of the three dollars a day the aggressors earn, reflects their cold-hearted determination to risk all that ever mattered to them in order to savor the wealth. They become part of the meaningless crowd that, blinded by dollar signs, believes that affluence leads to happiness, making money their number one priority.
Similarly, in the 1920s flourishing American economy of flashy cars and ostentatious mansions and extravagant parties and overpriced attire, there are those who believe money is the key to glee. Gatsby, born into a family of “unsuccessful farm people” trades in his “torn green jersey” for a “shirt of sheer linen” and dedicates his life to amassing the fortune he believes will help him accomplish his dream (Fitzgerald 5.92 & 6.98). Deceit becomes his best friend as corruption murders his...