Analysis: The Grapes Of Wrath

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A Historical Journey to the Southwest The Great Depression was the deepest and longest lasting economic downturn in the history of the western industrialized world. Farmers, who had been struggling with their own economic depression for much of the 1930s due to drought and falling food prices, couldn't afford to harvest their crops. Farmers were forced to leave their crops rotting in the ground while people elsewhere starved. Many farmers and their families migrated to the country's urban centers looking for work. The Joad family, from John Steinbeck's “The Grapes of Wrath,” is the perfect example of the devastation the Great Depression and Dust Bowl had on Americans in the Midwest in the late 1930s. But humans weren't the only ones affected…show more content…
The American economy entered a recession during the summer of 1929. Stock prices continued to rise at the same time, customer spending dropped and unsold goods began to pile up. Over the next three years, matters continued to get worse. By 1930, four million Americans looking for work could not find it. Within a year, the number of unemployed Americans rose to six million. Farmers, going through their own economic depression during the 1930s due to the Dust Bowl, couldn't afford to keep farming and were forced off their lands. In the novel, when tenants get kicked off the landowner’s farms, they would tell them the banks need to be fed due to the fact that the bank is part of a monster whose hunger can't be tamed. The tractors became “snub-nosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, and in and out of gullies in straight lines (Steinbeck).” In the novel, when Tom Joad hitched a ride with a truck driver, a small grasshopper also tags along for the ride. “Joad reached forward and crushed its hard skull-like head with his fingers, and he let it into the wind stream out the window (Steinbeck).” This event reminds the readers of July 26, 1931, when in the Midwest, a swarm of grasshoppers destroyed crops and obliterated farms. The way humans treated insects in the novel is the same way the landowners treat…show more content…
This period of time was called the Dust Bowl. American farmers planted incorrectly during this drought, which caused healthy crops. Farmers over planted their fields and poorly managed them. Thousands of families were affected by the Dust Bowl, but the force that really ruined their careers was the advancement of technology. Eventually, most farmers were replaced by machines. Farming is about life, cultivation, and growth. Farmers felt “the machine man, driving a dead tractor on the land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry, and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself. When the corrugated iron doors shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land (Steinbeck).” This quote generally sums up how farmers felt while watching their land get taken away during the Dust Bowl and worked on with the machines. The reason why crops weren't growing, besides the drought, was the fact that farmers plowed under natural grasses and used crops that were not drought resistant. There was nothing to hold the top soil in place, which caused it to dry out, making it very susceptible to wind. The Dust Bowl blew away millions of acres of soil, which caused huge clouds of dirt. The clouds were so large you could see them across the Great Plains. There were 14 recorded dust storms in 1932 on the Great Plains destroying thousands of

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