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Many people were upset by the language used in the novel and questioned whether religious people brought up in Oklahoma's culture would talk this way. Steinbeck however, based his characters on people he'd interviewed in the California migrant camps, people who'd suffered considerably.
"Okie" was almost a racial epithet," and some people fit the mold an "Oakie" was put into. It seems that Ma Joad's fear of family separation, or maybe I should say family ties was justified.
The Grapes of Wrath