the grapes of wrath
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Life in the Weedpatch government camp proves to turn the Joads’ luck around. Perhaps for the first time since leaving Oklahoma, the family finds itself in a secure position. Tom finds a job, and the camp manager treats Ma with such dignity that she says she feels “like people again.” The charity, kindness, and goodwill that the migrants exhibit toward one another testifies to the power of their fellowship. When left to their own devices, and given shelter from the corrupt social system that keeps them down, the migrants make the first steps toward establishing an almost utopian mini-society. Moreover, life in Weedpatch disproves the landowners’ beliefs that “Okies” lead undignified, uncivilized lives. Indeed, the migrants show themselves to be more civilized than the landowners, as demonstrated by the way in which they respond to the Farmers’ Association’s plot to sabotage the camp. Most of the wealthy landowners believe that poverty-stricken, uneducated farmers deserve to be treated contemptuously. These men maintain that to reward farmers with amenities such as toilets, showers, and comfortable wages will merely give them a sense of entitlement, embolden them to ask for more, and thus create social and economic unrest. The migrants, however, meet the association’s scheming and violent plot with grace and integrity. Here, the farmers rise far above the men who oppress them by exhibiting a kind of dignity that, in the world Steinbeck describes, often eludes the rich.
The "Reds" were communists. They wanted to get the farm workers into a union so they could control them as a group. In the 1930's, with the depression and the dust bowl in the midwest, many workers were without jobs, blamed the government, and were looking for a uniting symbol.