The Grapes of Wrath

What is the social significance of this change? When does Steinbeck make it most clear?

Chapter 14

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This chapter makes an explicit political statement concerning the migration to the west coast. The owners and controlling powers fear the changes that are imminent and that threaten their interests. However, the owners are the cause of this change. By forcing the farmers from their land, they have created the hunger that afflicts them.

Steinbeck once again considers the definition and function of a man. According to him, a man is defined by what he creates and what work he does, and most importantly, by his ability for improvement. He warns against the time when mankind does not strive for improvement, even when that struggle leads to sacrifice. This is an attempt to create a larger perspective on mankind greater than the collective interest of individuals. According to Steinbeck, mankind is distinguished because men's actions can go beyond oneself. This adheres to the collectivist viewpoint throughout the novel.

This chapter also makes clear the adversary relationship between the owners and the working classes. The owners exploit individual interests in order to thwart the collective good. By forcing men to consider only their self-interest, the owners prevent the possibility that the collective interest may form and foment revolution.