Politics of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath: Banks Vs Tenant Farmers

Chapter 5 of John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath is the chapter where the men who represent the bank come and tell the tenant farmers that they have to get off the land because the bank has decided that the land is to become more like a factory. They bring in one guy on a tractor who will work all of the land for the price of feeding 100 tenant farmers.

The chapter is interesting for a few reasons. First, I love the way the characters aren’t even delineated. We don’t even hear any of their names here. There is lots of dialogue, but we don’t know the names of any of the speakers. They’re representatives, almost like caricatures. Their identities don’t matter because they just types of people. They’re business people and they’re tenant farmers, not real people with names.

But that’s the point, too. For the … Read More