Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An we was born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised(45). In John Steinbecks novel, The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck illustrates and advocates drastic change in the economy during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the early 1930s. He depicts this transformation using the Joad family, illuminating their struggle in these hard times.
In this novel there is an agricultural evolution with three distinct stages. In the beginning Grama and Grampa owned their land and they produced their product for themselves. The second stage is that of sharecropping, where Pa had lost ownership of the land but continued to farm and he makes a small profit of trade. The final stage is that where money and profit rule all, and corporations take total control and the family businesses are destroyed. The economy of this time changes dramatically and many suffered because of it. In the beginning farmers had to be the land in order to survive.
The farmers had to know every detail, and they had to devote their every moment to make sure the crop would be successful. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on itThats what makes it ours-being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership(45). At this time the land was owned by the families and they were the ones that worked on it so they could survive. They were a part of the land. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, its part of him, and its like himEven if he isnt successful hes big with his property(50).
The first real step toward the economic evolution starts with the initiation of sharecropping. The families would work hard and do well and then a bad year would come and so the crop failed. The families had to borrow a little money form the banks so they could get back on their feet. Then, another poor crop, and the families have to eat so they borrow a little more money from the banks. Soon without knowing what has happened the families no longer own their land, they are tenants. The farm to pay back their debts to the bank.
Some families may be able to pay back their debt, but most are lost in the never-ending circle of getting ahead only to fall behind again. In the final stage of this economic evolution, corporations take over and profits are the only concern in any situation. This is the most complex stage of the two previous time periods. This period is a mixture of corporations taking over and old farmers either doing what is necessary for them to feed their children or they flee to California where work is guaranteed. Because those creature dont breathe air, dont eat side-meat.
They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money(43). An example of a ex-farmer providing for his family is that of the tractor driver. He does what the corporation asks of him and in return he gets three dollars every day. The tenant system wont work any more. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve of fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop (44). These monsters are willing to do anything in order to gain more money. They send out hanbills all over hell. They need three thousan and they get six thousan. They get them men for what they wanta pay.
If ya don wanta take what they pay, goddamn it, thys a thousan men waitin for your job(335). In this final stage of the agricultural evolution money is the only real thing and people do what they must in order to get their money. It is obvious to see that John Steinbeck advocates economic change in his novel. There are three very distinct phases that are illustrated in this novel. In the beginning it was the about the family and in the end it was all about the money. There is a drastic change that occurred in this time period that affected millions and Steinbeck depicts this in his novel.