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Steinbeck defines dignity in The Harvest Gypsies as "[…] a register of a man's responsibility to community" (39). This sense of responsibility is of the utmost importance, according to Steinbeck, for maintaining the human spirit and a sense of decency and ethics. The atrocious, inhumane treatment of the migrants, ranging from forced starvation to terror tactics, results in the complete "destruction of dignity," which Steinbeck calls "[…] one of the most regrettable results of the migrant's life" (39).
The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies