The bright colors and nice shirts all grab your attention at the store, but how did the cotton, grain, or wheat in the products come to be? In Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, mechanization brings capitalism and other unintended consequences, leads to the decision for land owners of whether to run a business using greed or virtue, and separates the working class.Steinbeck starts The Grapes of Wrath by showing the Joad family who had just been removed from their farm. The Joads are one family of a monstrous number of families to be removed from their farms. They were raised on the land, some died on the land, and they were with approximately seven million families that lived on farms in the same day (“U.S. AGRICULTURAL POLICY,” 10). The banks told the Farmers’ Association to lower the overhead of all agricultural products by employing possibly one or two men to take the place of sixteen other men. The owner of the land had the choice to both get rich and be extremely wealthy by profiting off the loss and pain of others or to become one who is taken advantage of and becoming hungry and poor.
One of the main unintended consequences of employing one man to drive the tractor was a loss of contact to the land. The land owners became completely separated from their land. The people who farmed in the same way as the Joads lived for the land, and they lived because of the land. This relationship between farmer and land was destroyed due to the introduction of the tractor to the land. Land owners no longer knew when they needed to give the land a break, and for this reason many pieces of land became totally dust and truly became unformidable to any type of farming. This overuse of the land led to what we know as the Dust B…
…reed which totally annihilated the working class’s bond of unity. If the working class had united maybe they would not have been so very miserable for such a long time. Maybe the Dustbowl would have never happened.
“Article III.” The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath. Charles Wollenberg, ed. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1988.
“Article IV.” The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath. Charles Wollenberg, ed. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1988.
Harvey, John, John Crowley, and Jack Hayes. U.S. Government. Department of Agriculture. Face of Rural America. 1975.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. Eds. Peter Lisca with Kevin Hearle. New York: Viking,1997.
Rasmussen, Wayne D.. “The Challenge of Change.” Trans. Array U.S. Agriculture in a Global Economy. 1985.
“U.S. AGRICULTURAL POLICY.” The Reference Shelf. 38. New York: 1966.