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Effects of Societal Ideals

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sbaeth
Words 1654
Pages 7
Stephanie Baeth
Ms. Hanigan
Honors English II
March 10, 2014
Effects of Societal Ideals
During the Great Depression, one of the most devastating times in United States history, Americans searched desperately for the root cause of their crisis. They blamed banks, the government, Wall Street, major corporations, and even the weather. While many individuals were busy pointing fingers, John Steinbeck created a master-piece, known as The Grapes of Wrath. His book encapsulates the true foundation of the suffering: the inhumanity and carelessness that lies within people. Not only does the novel present the cause of the challenges faced, but it also provides a solution. The ideals of unity, compassion, and help for one another give insight to how change can be achieved. Steinbeck encompasses the hurtful and helpful ideals of society through generalized characters in intercalary chapter 15, which are also apparent in the specific characters from the Joad chapters. Al, a major character from the chapter, represents disregard and selfishness—traits that the California townsperson displays to the Joad family as well. While Al does not directly contribute to the suffering of the poor, he indirectly increases the pain they feel. He is “no contact” and “moody” (ch.15; 209), which presents his disinterested personality and annoyance with reality. Al has the capability of reaching out to others, but “he never speaks” (ch.15; 209). This portrays him as the bystander; he is well aware of the horrible challenges people are facing but would rather not take any part in fixing them. When the Okie begs Mae to sell him cheap loaf of bread and she is unwilling to give him one, Al angrily forces her to “give ’em the loaf” (ch.15; 218). Al’s insistence does not present an act of kindness, but it shows his desire to avoid dealing with the problem. He ultimately wants the Okies…...

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