The Grapes of Wrath

In what ways does this novel transcend the critical issues of the Thirties and the Depression and speak to us this day? Are there issuses that are the same for us? (The Grapes of Wrath)

The Grapes of Wrath

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Progressing hand-in-hand with the theme of industrialization, the idea of corporate greed is essential to the novel. This theme even ties in directly with the title: the phrase "grapes of wrath" can be found in both the Book of Revelation and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Both of these references, as understood in Steinbeck's context, amount to a call for a higher power to right the wrongs that the corporate powers have done to the landless farmers. The greed of wealthy landowners is showcased from the beginning of the novel to the end -- they are ruthless and will do anything for higher profit margins.

This mentality is evident both in the general narrative chapters and in the chapters that deal specifically with the Joads and their direct acquaintances. At the hands of greedy landowners, people like the Joads lead pitiful and difficult lives. They are barely able to feed themselves on their daily wages, and the living conditions they face are horrible. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer just so a few corporate powers can make more money off another box of peaches or another pound of cotton. Under the pressure of these working conditions, the "grapes of wrath" of the laborers ferment and grow bitterly strong. Corporate Greed is a theme that we can still understand today. Certainly we are all aware of instances where people and the environment have been taken advantage of by corporations in the name of profit.