Muley is a man who has refused to leave his land, despite being told he no longer owns it. He goes on to describe the police as hunters, and he is being the hunted, as if he was nothing but an animal. As Muley begins to talk with Tom and Casey he also discusses his mistrust for government. ” Further along in the story, Ma is forced to beg police to let them pass as they are attempting to enter California; the police are given the characteristic of being the barricade of hope.
Another example of police brutality occurs when the police come into the camp the Joads are staying in, and after Floyd attempts to stand up for air pay, a fight breaks out, and the police begin shooting at Floyd without a care, and shoot an innocent woman instead without remorse. They then proceed to burn down the camp, to eliminate the migrants attempts to live there. One last example that can be discussed, occurs near the end of the book when the Joads are in the government camp. The police are not allowed without a warrant.
Instead of leaving the people alone they attempt to purposely create a situation that would allow them entry into the camp so that they can shoot and arrest migrants, and scare them away. Police are seen by migrants as scary eings that are set on destroying them and keeping them from happiness, they are oppressors bent on keeping the migrant people down. Today police are still seen as oppressors by many people. Police are often criticized for demonstrating too much force, for their brutality.
Police are feared by many, we often see this amongst the African American populations, who claim that the police are much harder on them than other races and are out to oppress them. We have seen time and time again in the news where a police officer has been accused of showing too much force and are thus criticized and riots and protests often egin. Both the Okies of the Dust Bowel and people today are standing up to the oppressors and are demanding and fighting for equal treatment.
Perhaps these things are happening in different ways, partly due to the progression of time, but the rudimentary elements, such as the uncertainty of police, seem to remain in many cases. One of the greatest of the concepts demonstrated throughout Steinbeck’s book “Grapes of Wrath” is man’s inhumanity to man. The suffering of the migrants in many ways can be contributed to man themselves. During the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowel great social and conomic circumstances dived people in “the rich” and “the poor.
Investors in the farmland of the countries’ bread basket did not care about what they did to the tenants as long as the land was being farmed. As soon as tenants were kicked off their land, the land was being torn down and the people were replaced anew. Rather than having compassion for the thousands of people without work, food, or a home, the migrants were ridiculed and abused. These migrants were treated as lesser beings, even below the small farmers in California in which they would have once been considered equal to.
Migrants were starved and left along the sides of the roads with little to no shelter. Those with wove past those without as if they weren’t even there; the line drawn between classes was forever prevalent. Another instance in which Steinbeck gives us a glimpse of this belittlement is when the houses of the tenant farmers in chapter 11 is being described as abandoned and destitute; with animals invading and doors and windows shattered. The livelihood and left behind possessions are viewed as less than It the demonstration of the belittlement of the people’s lives.
If it wasn’t enough to allow the poor to suffer, hey were also pitted against one another. Farmers cared only for a profit and would go as far as destroying crops on purpose so that there was not too much, so that they price for their goods would be driven up. These same farmers would and out thousands upon thousands of work hand-bills, while only requiring at most a few hundred. Wages of the immigrants, like the Joads, would be slashed to barely nothing, that’s even if they even found work.
Migrants would be paid so low in wages a day’s work would barely pay for that night’s dinner. Immigrants were forced to fight for work against one another, to fight to be ne step ahead of those around them. Today in many ways this is still occurring. Just like during the time of the Dust Bowl, migrants today are viewed as a hindrance. Those who have, care not for those who don’t. Many people today still seem to lack empathy and compassion for others. Many only see the immigrants and refugees enter our country and fear overcomes them.
They yell and shout and protest “go home. ” They fear jobs will be taken from them. Today, just as during the times described in the book, people do not stop to consider that these poor and suffering people may not have a home to go back to. There is still a separation that is ever growing; a separation of relationships, a separation between the wonder for work and land, a separation from people caring for one another and doing good for one another. This still reigns true, especially when looking across the social and economic lines.
Today, in some ways, the problems seem to be in fact even greater than the struggling times of the 1930s. With progression and growth of capitalism has come the desire for even more power and more money; it truly is enough to make one wonder where we will be at this rate in another 80 years. On the reverse of this is the saving power of family and friendship, the fellowship of man. It is the little miracles that keep hope going for the migrants. When they are down on their luck and some are suffering, the simple acts of kindnesses are what keep people going.
When the Joads meet up with the Wilsons and help them with their car, when the Wilsons offer their tent for shelter, when Ma gives the small starving children food to eat, and when Rose of Sharron feeds the starving man her breast milk. All of these things on their own may seem like nothing, but when they come t the right time, when people are down on their luck and about to give up, it could mean the difference between life and death. In the world today, simple kindnesses still occur, but perhaps go less noticed or appreciated.
People today seem to be consumed with living their own lives and focusing on their own suffering. During the time of the Okies, yes there was a divide between the classes, but the Okies themselves still showed kindness and charity for one another. More so today, however, people are convinced they must be struggling more than their neighbor and thus deserve more. Many people are still in a competitive mentality, even amongst their neighbors. As one injustice is proclaimed another is soon followed; in many cases, rather than help one another fight a shouting match of who is louder ensues.
Today, people often forget concept in the words Ma lived by in “The Grapes of Wrath” “we cannot account for what might be, only what is now. ” One way this can be related to this issue is that people today are so worried about what is in the future they look past what is around them now. People forget to live in the moment and to make the best of it. During the hard imes in the refugee camps, such as the ones the Joads stayed in, the immigrants found small joys. Rather these joys came through charity, fellowship, music, or dance.
The Joads in fact attended a dance and laughed and found more joy than they had on their journey thus far. People still find their enjoyment through varying types of entertainment, but in many ways today it is different. The simple pleasures of the past are in many ways all but forgotten. The gender and hierarchal family roles that occur in the book can also be related to life today. In the beginning of the book the Joad family survived through the ypical nuclear family; the adult males took lead roles in the making, while the females took a back seat.
As the book progresses, we begin to see character shifts. Ma becomes feistier, and stands up to police, as well as her family, Ma begins making family decisions over her husband. Rose of Sharron transforms herself from the ditzy naive girl to a young woman who has suffered greatly and is on her way to becoming wiser beyond her years. In the reverse of this, Uncle John takes a much more silent role, though much of the book; Pa takes more of a back seat in family decisions as his pride becomes more hurt.