Notes on Grapes of Wrath Themes

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Grapes of Wrath Topic Tracking: Inhumanity

Chapter 5

Inhumanity 1: The companies or banks that own the land, which is leased to the tenant farmers, are not making a profit on the land. Men are sent to evict the tenants. The farmers are angered by the news and want to fight back, but the messengers say that no man is directly responsible for their eviction. Banks and companies, which are created by men, are out of their control. They are machines to which men are enslaved.

Inhumanity 2: A local boy has a job driving a tractor. He ploughs the bank's land, and knocks over his own neighbors' houses. He has become a robot, like the tractor he operates. He has lost an understanding of the land and of humankind.

Chapter 7

Inhumanity 3: Used car salesmen are intent on making the largest possible profit. They have no qualms about lying to customers, preying on their weaknesses, and possibly ruining them financially. They only think of making the sale at the highest margin.

Chapter 18

Inhumanity 4: A migrant heading back east tells the Joads how it is in California. Companies keep men from farming fallow land and feeding their land because they do not want them to turn into squatters. Everyone hates migrants because they are needy, and out of fear they treat the migrants cruelly and unjustly.

Inhumanity 5: Without any provocation, a policeman insults Ma calling her an "Okie" and threatens to run her out if her family has not left their campsite by the morning. Ma is deeply insulted and threatens him with a frying pan.

Chapter 20

Inhumanity 6: Floyd questions a contractors right to sign up workers without a license and without setting a wage. The contractor suggests that the deputy that accompanied him that he might recognize Floyd and they arrest him without evidence. Floyd escapes and the deputy carelessly shoots off a migrant woman's hand.

Chapter 21

Inhumanity 7: All the non-migrants of California unite against the migrants whether they are property owners or not. They fear the strength of a desperate and large group of people, and the money that could have helped feed the migrants went instead to fight them.

Chapter 22

Inhumanity 8: A migrant woman at the government camp describes her experience of charity. Her husband went to the Salvation Army for food when his family was starving, and was forced to grovel for it. Even the Salvation Army degraded the migrants.

Chapter 25

Inhumanity 9: When farmers cannot afford to harvest their crops they let them go to waste. For the sake of profit, food is left to rot and kept from the starving migrant families.

Chapter 26

Inhumanity 10: Men trying to break up the strike attack the camp of the protesters. Casy warns them that they do not know what they are doing. He tells them they are helping to starve children. One man kills Casy with a pick ax.

Chapter 29

Inhumanity 11: During the rainy season there is no work for the migrants. They begin to starve. One migrant comments that farmers do not turn out their horses during the winter. The migrants realize they are treated worse than animals.

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