Chapter 14

Thus far, we’ve only seen the push west through the eyes of the tenant farmers.  But what about the people who were already living in California and had been for generations?  This chapter starts with the words, “THE WESTERN LAND, nervous under the beginning change” of larger governments, new taxes and growing labor unity.   I’m sure it was frightening to see all of the hungry people from the dustbowl coming into the state.  They were willing to work for less money and in some cases they would work in exchange for food.  It was heartbreaking to read about how the children in one of the camps just stood around the Joade’s fire hoping to get fed.  Even though the Ma Joade didn’t have enough food to fill up her own hungry family, she made sure to leave enough in the pot for some of the children to get a stick full.

This chapter also discusses how the banks run everything (not unlike Wall Street today) and how they want tractors on the land, not people.  Just like back then, banks foreclose on properties when people fall behind in their mortgage payments. Today people are run out of their homes just as the Oakies were run off their land.  Steinbeck says “There is little difference between a tractor and a tank.  The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both.  We must think about this.”  Today the foreclosed houses sit vacant while the numbers of those that are homeless grow.  I see them every day in our libraries and think, there but for the grace of God go I.  I was struck by one line in particular, “hungry for security and yet sensing its disappearance from the earth” which seems to fit the time we are currently living in.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm  Comments (1)