Racism In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a heart wrenching and eye opening novel. Steinbeck gives a clear and precise picture with the words he employs. One recurring perspective, abundantly obvious, is prejudism. Anger, fear and misunderstanding flow between the Californians and the Oklahoma immigrants, all of which cause a double-sided prejudice.
As the Oklahomans come in droves from their devastated lands and attempt to build a new life for themselves, the Californians angrily look at them as a threat to their way of life. An example of such a belief is found in chapter 20 of Steinbeck 's novel. The Joads escape the Hooverville while the locals burn it down. Informed of a possible job in a southern town, they are quickly stopped in the
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The oklahomans are led to believe the california landowners greatly need workers.The californians watch as over 450,000 “okies” invade their state. As the Joads enter the state of California, they stop at a gas station. The two gas station employees look on them with disdain and say amongst themselves “Them goddamn Okies got no sense and no feeling. They ain’t human. A human being wouldn’t live like they do. . . They ain’t a hell of a lot better than gorillas.” (301) The common misconception was that their way of life is a choice, they are ignorant because they are poor, and uneducated because they speak differently. Another example of the prejudice directed at the Joads is shown in chapter 26. When the Joad matriarch enters the grocery store on one of the farms, she is met with ridicule and antagonism. The store clerk mocks her situation. After she gently puts him in his place, he looks on in wonder as she leaves. As if he realizes she is far more than he was taught to believe (513). Further in the same chapter, Tom Joad asks a guard if there is any warm water for bathing. The guard scornfully replies “Say who in hell you think you are, J.P. Morgan?” (515). The idea is widely spread throughout all of California that the oklahoman immigrants are dirty and backward and have no need for basic

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