Hunger And Discrimination In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

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Rebecca Hiigel Dr. Walker AP Language and Composition 23 September, 2014 Steinbeck’s Eyes: Hunger and Discrimination John Steinbeck wrote the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, to display the disjunction between the social classes, as well as to question Mankind’s morals through the example of the injustices the migrant workers faced during the Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath includes many different social issues, two of the most prevalent being hunger and discrimination. These social issues are not only brought into the limelight by the intercalary chapters and the story of the Joad family, but are also displayed through the development of the characters Ma Joad and Jim Casy. Steinbeck utilizes repetition, antithesis, rhetorical questions,…show more content…
As the novel progresses, Pa Joad slowly becomes unable to be the rock of the family, and Ma unflinchingly takes over that position. As the title of “head of the family” slowly but surely falls to Ma, she continues to make the food, take care of the children, and provide loving encouragement to those who need it. Steinbeck uses Ma’s character to display the pressing issue of hunger and malnutrition that was present in the 30s and 40s. At one point in the novel, Ma was cooking a stew outside the tent. All the children in that area could smell the stew, and they gathered around her with wide eyes and watering mouths. Steinbeck uses this moment to show that even when the migrants wanted to help one another, they were not able to because of their financial situations. Ma responds to the stew situation the best way that she can; once her family was fed, she let the children devour the leftovers. Later, Ma is confronted with another mother who is upset that their child received food from Ma. This event shows that hunger and malnutrition punched a hole in the dignity of all of the migrant workers. Hunger not only embarrassed them, but it made it harder for them to work together because they strived for the independence their unfortunate situations did not allow them to

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