Summary: The Grapes Of Wrath

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In Steinbeck's book The Grapes of Wrath, self-interest prevents the formation of a utopian society. The book takes place during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, where farming families lost their property to capitalists seeking profit. Capitalists are people who use self interest, competition, supply and demand, free markets, etc., to earn money, or capital. Families found themselves without a home or a job, and in order to make a living, they had to migrate west. However, the people who already lived there oppressed the migrants, since they thought the migrants would take their land and jobs. The landowners also underpaid the migrant families, since the need for income was high, but the number of jobs available was low, so the farmers…show more content…
The farming families need cars to get to California, so they head to buy used cars. One family buys a car for two mules, fifty dollars, and ten dollars a month, after the dealer convinces them that it’s worth eighty dollars. When the family leaves, the car dealer reflects on the sale, saying, “Jesus, Joe, that was a hot one! what’s we give for that jalopy? Thirty bucks--thirty-five wasn’t it? I got that team, an’ if i can get seventy-five for that team, I ain’t a business man. An’ I got fifty cash an’ a contract for forty more. Oh, I know they’re not all honest, but it’ll surprise you how many kick through with the rest. One guy come through with a hundred two years after I wrote him off. I bet this guy sends the money.” (Steinbeck 87-88). The car dealer tricks the family into buying an overpriced car, even though the exchange value was only thirty five dollars. The dealer also plans on selling the mules for seventy five dollars, though he earlier said that the mules were worth ten dollars each. He continues to talk about the money he made with the deal, saying ‘...I got fifty cash an’ a contract for forty more’. Profit is what drives capitalists to exchange goods in the market. The car dealer, a capitalist, wants to make a profit by exchanging his used cars for money from the farmers. Since the farmer is desperate for a car, he has no choice but to accept the

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