Chapter 21

There seems to be such a disconnect between the hungry migrant men and the owners of crop producing land, between migrants and the rest of society.

Entire families of farmers, after living a simple agrarian life, where everything they had was coming from the land and the work done on the land, were pushed out by machines that they did not understand. They started to live the migrant life and they started to change.

Hungry Children

 Steinbeck describes what changes them: the highways, the camps along the road, the fear of hunger and the hunger itself, the children going to bed without dinner, the endless moving, the hostility against them and the sight of a land of plenty that they cannot cultivate.

Steinbeck also depicts  the panic of the “men of property”, fearing the “flare of want” in the eyes of the migrants. They rationalize their fears and their actions by giving migrants bad reputation, arming themselves in “self-defense” with clubs, with gas, and with guns.

What is also described are the consequences of the disappearance of small farms, where farmers worked to provide for themselves, and the rise of large scale crop production operations, financed by banks and managed as a business.

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Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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