The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck’s Compassion
By: Gregory “Nate” Gabel
Due Date: Nov.18 2008
EN102 Research Paper
To: Mrs. Corbett
The Dust Bowl was an economic, ecological and social disaster in the Southwestern Great Plains regions of the United States in the 1930's. The areas affected were Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. The cause of this disaster was linked to The Great Depression and economic overexpansion of farms which resulted in improper land use and management (NDMC 1). During this time the “Okies”, a name given to the migrants that traveled from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, or anywhere in the Southwest or the northern plains to California in search of work, encountered many hardships. These hardships are brilliantly shown in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Many agree, "The most important fact about the dust storms was not scientific but human: their tragic effect upon people seeking livelihood on the stricken Midwestern farms" (French 4).
Steinbeck believed that society treated the Okies inhumanly, and through his novel we can account for how the migants were treated, and how they dealt with such harsh circumstances by banding together. He also believed that social upheaval led families to grow beyond blood through sharing hardships, and focusing on the needs of the many rather than the needs of the few (Hinton 101). By looking at Steinbeck's own personal background and information from historical commentaries, we are better able to grasp his reasoning for writing the novel because he understood what it was like to grow up as a farmer, and an outsider. More importantly, however, we are able to share in his compassion for the migrant workers.
To fully understand Steinbeck's reasoning for writing the novel it is important to look at his family and where he grew up. John Ernst Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas California. His parents were middle-class people who played many roles in the community...