John Steinbeck Essay by Chaiky
In John Steinbeck’s books, he makes the readers feel empathy for what the poor and struggling people in the book’s stories were going through and he thought the common man was more noble than the rich and powerful. The strongest examples of this are in Ma Joad’s final speech in The Grapes of Wrath “Rich fellas come up an’ die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep a’ comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever; cause we’re the people.” Through books like The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck teaches people how to be sensitive and compassionate to how the less fortunate people feel.
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California. He came from a family of middle-class people. John Steinbeck went to Stanford University but never graduated. He tried to establish himself as a freelance writer but failed to do so. His first widely known book was Tortilla Flat in 1935. Many of Steinbeck’s novels were about the economically disadvantaged. Thus, He wrote: In Dubious Battles, Of Mice and Men, The Long Valley, East of Eden, The Winter of Our Discontent, and Travels with Charley. In 1939, he published a book called The Grapes of Wrath, which was considered his best work.
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The Grapes of Wrath is the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who are unable to earn a living from the land, so they move to California where they hope to find good jobs. The Pearl is about a poor Mexican family whose baby boy gets a scorpion bite and faces a crisis that involves saving his young son’s life. He said While the neighbors and native people are concerned with the child’s well-being, the fat, wealthy doctor cares very little. This example is perhaps the reason Steinbeck once wrote: “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need- go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help- the only ones.” After John Steinbeck left college he went to different poor towns and he lived with these people for a few months. He saw how they lived and this helped him a lot with his books because he knew how they felt.
The Pearl is about a poor Mexican family whose son gets a scorpion bite. The Doctor won’t cure their son because they don’t have enough money to pay him. They go on their family’s boat near the ocean hoping to find a pearl that they can sell to get some money to pay the doctor so they can have their son cured. What they find is far more than they could have ever expected. However, when they try to sell the pearl they realize that they are being cheated by the pearl buyers.
Further, the Doctor is so greedy that he sends his servants into the house at night hoping to find the pearl and steal it. Jauna, Kino’s wife, tries to throw the pearl into the water because she thinks it brings evil to their family. Kino the father finds out and gets very upset. While Kino was trying to save the pearl he is attacked by a man and kills him. Since he is poor it doesn’t matter that he was first attacked, he killed a white man! They soon after find out their house is burned down and their boat has a huge hole in the middle. In the end, they have to run away so that they won’t get killed.
There were people searching for them. Coyotito, the son starts crying and the trackers here him and think it is a coyote. They shoot at the sound. The bullet hits Coyotito in the head and he dies. Kino was so worried about the pearl, he didn’t listen to Juana. Tragically, he ends up losing his son because of his ignorance. “It is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more.” This shows us that greed and ambition can lead to terrible things happening to people and their family’s.
The Grapes of Wrath is about a man named Tom Joad who goes into prison because he killed a person. He came out of jail and went back to his family’s farm and when he got there, the farm is vacant, besides for one person who refused to leave. He tells Tom that his family went to their uncle’s farm. He goes to his uncle’s farm and they are starting to pack to leave. Grandpa Joad, Tom Joads grandfather didn’t want to leave so the family was forced to drug him with a ” soothin’ syrup” to force him to leave, but on the first day of driving he dies and is buried on the side of the road. They start their journey hoping for jobs and better living conditions.
But as they enter California they are disappointed to find out that what the papers they got said was all a lie, the land doesn’t look the way they were told. They realize that the people of California don’t want them there and are trying to block them from coming in. they find a place to get settled but are watched at every move they do and they are underpaid. “That’s right,” the tenant said. “But for your three dollars, a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?” Since there were so many people coming to California from Oklahoma people who were offering them jobs were paying less and less because they had too many people working for them.
Since the places where people were moving were so crowded people who lived near these places started to get mad and planned fights. Tom Joad tries to defend himself from getting killed and ends up killing a police and getting a big scar on his forehead. Now the other police are after him and he needs to escape the place they are living. They go to a place run by the government and the police are not allowed in. The family is having a great time there until Tom Joad and a few other people find out that during a dance that the town was having that night, was going to be invaded by a few people who will start a fight.
They try to start a fight but it doesn’t work. In the end, Tom Joad has to run away so he won’t get in trouble. Before Tom Joad leaves he says to his mother, ” Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy I’ll be there…. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’- I’ll be in the ways kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses the build why, I’ll be there.” This shows us that Tom Joad would come back when everyone and everything would be the way that it was before they moved.
In John Steinbeck’s books he shows the readers how the poor and impoverished people feel and they we should look up to them and feel for them in many ways. John Steinbeck could’ve chosen to live as a middle-class man yet in his early years he went to places where poor and less fortunate people lived and stayed there for a few months and saw how they lived and wrote book. He even thought they were more knowledgeable than rich people. He said ” Riches seem to come to the poor in spirit, the poor in interest and joy. To put it straight- the very rich area poor bunch of bastards.”