Conflict of the Working Class in Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men”

Dispute of the Working Class in Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Rage” and “Of Mice and Male”

Since the production of mankind, male has actually dealt with the war of dominating the land, to achieve its ownership. Be it during the times of the Homo sapiens, when man combated versus the wildest animals, producing its own pastures of growth and living, or the times when lands were being shaken by monstrous devices brought by the Industrial Transformation.

Lenny Grapes of Wrath

Therefore, it is the nature of Male, to conquer and live in dominance, with a group left to suffer. Nevertheless, the quantity of anguish is what defines the difference in between man of the Stone Age, and the man of the IT world, the modern-day technology.

Such subject of dispute in between the working class which on the ruling side is the style in most of the novels written by John Steinbeck, renowned for this elaboration and profound imagination displayed in his novels, “Of Mice and Guy,” (1937 ), and “the Grapes of Wrath,” (1939 ).

Steinbeck is popular for his stories, revealing the war of the excellent versus the evil, and thus chooses to compose the tales of the difficulties faced by the individuals of his own soil, in the struggle to create a stronger society. And due to his strong works and words of knowledge he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

The unique, “Of Mice and Male,” has its setting positioned at the time when the world was most profoundly hit by the manifestation of the Great Depression, leaving it in a state of chaos, financial down turn along with social degradation at every level. A time when problems were seen in every home, and when no one could endure without tasting its bitterness, Steinbeck enlivened the protagonist of his story, George Melton, who is accompanied by his psychologically disabled friend Lennie, which he picked directly from the convulsions of the real life.

It is believed that before Steinbeck began composing the book “Of Mice and Guy,” he took a trip deep into the masses, researching personally as to the life that these wanderers and the labor class in fact lived.

Throughout the 1930s when the story is set, and the duration making bread resembled war each day, and when labor management conflicts were on their peak, the author attempted his best to define the sample borders of the society and the issues of stress and psychological misery that it shared.

The plot of the film specifies how George out of relationship tries to carry on with Lennie, in search of a piece of land in California, when Lenie is psychologically disabled and has the obsession of keeping soft living things, be they be mice, rabbits or any other creature. George serves as a daddy head onto Lennie, and hence the two relocation along as immigrants searching for a ranch.

When they were at the edge of practically owning their own piece of land, Lennie, who was strong, however psychologically incapable, mistakenly eliminates the ranch owner’s daughter-in-law. George no matter is reclaimed by another occurrence which will miss him the opportunity of mere survival, shoots Lennie in the back of his head, in order to avoid him from the revenge of the victim’s hubby.

The book comes from Steinbeck’s own experience and takes a trip that he made after dropping out from university, in the mission of discovering the greater reality to the world. Milton and Small as the surnames of the 2 guys explain that all the labor was treated, as being microscopic in his book, is a symbol of the weak and bad working class who appear nothing in front of their managers and owners.

It demonstrates how the working classes own powerlessness and marginalized position leads them to social instability, such was the case of the unexpected death of Curley’s spouse, from Lennie’s hands. It ruins the world where all kinds of human interactions are managed and kept track of by misconceptions, jealousy, and vengeance.

While checking out the text of this unique, a person is required to embed in his mind the scenario in which the two guys are clinging onto each other. It is the concept of commitment, amiability, hope, and loneliness, which keeps them encapsulated in a shell of combined dream and friendship.

Another unique, which explains the scaries of a similar noble society, ruled by the riches and condemned to reside in for the bad in Steinbeck’s unique, “Grapes of Wrath.” The novel is a terrible representation of different catastrophes which befall a comparable migration as that of George and Lennie, (Of Mice and Guy), except the truth that here the entire household of the protagonist, Tom Joad, makes the constant journey of misery.

Both of the books show how unemployment and cravings, make the leading roles desperate for dedicating criminal offense, making them killers through the pressures of the society. As Steinbeck describing the journey of poverty, to cravings and after that to crime states at one point in “Grapes of Rage,” that, “On the highways individuals moved like ants and looked for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment.” (Steinbeck, pg 363)

Prior to writing this book, John Steinbeck, made a 3 year long research study into the lives of the working class, attempting to have an in depth analysis of their lives. Therefore, the critics who declare that his books are too severe, and very cynical towards the era of Great Depression, it just shows that what had actually been composed previously by the remainder of the writers in fact had done not have sustenance and research into the fact, which is way more grave than what had been represented by the others.

The book, “Grapes of Rage,” instills the catastrophes befallen by the Joad household. After the return of Tom Joad from the prison, in the case of a murder, he learns that the crops back house have actually been destroyed which his family is being dislodged of their own land due to the non-payment of loans.

In the chaos, Tom learns of the new land of California, where the federal government is dispersing land to the unemployed, therefore taking it as the beacon of light he invests all the family’s belongings into the concept of migration from Oklahoma to California. While they are still in the way, he with his 6 kids, moms and dads, better half, and son-in-law that they discover that their land of dreams was a fake alternative provided by the government, and most of the households were returning house.

Nevertheless, Tom chooses to continue with the journey, as they had absolutely nothing delegated go back to. In addition, catastrophes start to pave even further into the family, when 2 elder children and son-in-law desert the journey, his child gives birth to a still child, and his parents pass away.

When they reach California, a strike breaks out; and they are required to take part in them, Tom murders yet another man, and flees to sacrifice his life for the transformation to come. The story ends with a hope of anguish when Tom’s daughter acts as a wet nurse for a man passing away of starvation; illustrating how the patients wanted to even offer a part of themselves in order to conserve each others lives.

Steinbeck elaborates numerous themes of human suffering and competence throughout his book, making it less of a piece of fiction however rather a crucial social file. The book talks about the intrinsic bond of man with his own land, which exists with him throughout his life.

For instance, when Grand Pa of the Joad family, was forced to go through the migration, he remained intrinsic about it, and to let go of the relationship, he died even prior to they might reach the soils of the new land, as he sates, “This here is my country. I b’long here. An’ I do not give a goddamn if they’s oranges an’ grapes crowdin’ a fella outa bed even. I ain’t a-goin.” (Steinbeck, pg 142)

Both the books raise the fundamental questions of justice, ownership, stewardship of land, the function of the federal government, power, upper class, and the extremely structures of the capitalist society. Steinbeck a master story teller, hence through the presentation and set out of his characters is immediately able to get his audience’s compassion, not only for the story presented but also for the entire period of repression and disillusionment of the labor force worldwide.

They discuss the physical functions of America in the 1930’s when no matter stuck in the era of Great Depression, even the crop lands of the country were drying up, leaving the shear holders and the farmers out of job. Thus, the lands were becoming revenue less and the tenants could not even grow enough to fulfill their own family’s requirements.

The government in order to eliminate individuals of their disastrous scenario makes them dream of the Promised Land of California, with its lavish green farms and lands which might support any type of crop. Nevertheless, what it had shown as worthwhile turned out to be absolutely nothing but a lie, which Steinbeck states as “The Lost Paradise.”

There was defined range and difference between the working class and the labor, and it is quite evidently displayed in the unique, “Of the Mice and Men,” when George pleads Lennie to be careful in front of in charge’s son who had pride accompanied to his power. As the author states,

“Lennie’s eyes were terrified. ‘I don’t want no trouble,’ he said plaintively.’Don’t let him sock me George.’ George got up and went over to Lenie’s bunk and sat down on it. ‘I dislike that kinda bastard, I seen plenty of ’em. Like the old man states, Curley don’t take no possibilities. He constantly wins. If he tangles with you Lenie we’re gon na get the can. Don’t make no error to that. He’s the boss’s boy.'” (Steinbeck, pg 29).

A similar idea of hierarchy is likewise established in “Grapes of Rage,” where Steinbeck develops the fact that the greatest suffering brought to the migrants was not through bad climate condition or the issues dealt with throughout traveling, however rather their fellow human beings brought it. The catastrophe, which encapsulates the working of every society, is the difference endowed by historical, social and economical difference, which divide people into categorize of abundant and poor, landowner and tenant, with the dominant bosses having a hard time to preserve their positions by all means.

Steinbeck relates the hazards brought by the migrants to the landowners of California, by relating history of their presence in “Grapes of Rage,” stating how today owners had initially come themselves as migrants, had actually snatched the fields from Mexican inhabitants, therefore the new coming migrants were a fear of history duplicating itself. As he prices estimate, “Guy who had never ever waver wanted anything quite saw the flare of desire in the eyes of the migrants.” (Steinbeck, pg 362)

For that reason in order to secure themselves, the landowners attempted to develop such a system that it treated the migrants worse than animals, when they are moved from one roadway side camp to the other, are used earnings less than the minimal wage law, and are required to live with hatred against their own kind. Moreover, the primary dispute, which existed in between the 2 classes that is the elite and the labor class, was the illiteracy and awareness, which left them weak and weak. As George in “Of Mice and Male,” as soon as specifies that,

“If I was brilliant, if I was even a bit clever, I ‘d have my own little location, and I ‘d be bringin’ my own crops, rather of doin’ all the work and not getting what comes outta the ground.” (Steinbeck, pg 39).

Therefore, Steinbeck through both his books identifies the line, which separates the migrants from the fortunate class, living their lives in peace and luxury while the others are even rejected the right to live.

More than the conflict of human classes there is also the presence of guy capabilities being taken over by the coming period of maker life, where human labor is left without work by more effective and less time-consuming makers taking over his working capabilities.

The author recognizes this also as a time when America was moving progressively towards a structural change, which left individuals more out of work an impact of the Industrial Revolution. People were unskilled, illiterate, and poor or they were the bosses running the cattle ranches, which was leading to the development of farming co-operations, leaving the bad farmers out of work. As Steinbeck states in “Grapes of Rage,”

“And now the excellent owners and the business developed a new technique. An excellent owner bought a cannery. And when the peaches and the pears were ripe he cut the price of fruit below the rate of raising it. And as cannery owner he paid himself a low rate for the fruit and kept the rate of canned goods up and took his profit.”(Steinbeck, 363).

The part when “Of Mice and Male,” discusses solitude and the greed of every individual to achieve more pleasant relations, “Grapes of Rage,” show how conserving a household and its tradition keeps the people alive bequeathing them with hope and the power to struggle. Worn out from taking a trip with little hope, and taking abuses from different employers, George at numerous points marks out to Lennie that, “People like us, that deal with ranches, are the loneliest guys on the planet. They got no household. They do not belong no place.” (Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, pg 15)

While in the other book it is seen that Joad discovers himself instantly attached to all the other households migrating on the roadway with him, and a sense of commitment to one another, which verifies a bondage stronger than that of blood. Even at work, the two groups integrate sharing each others difficulties as well as defending survival as a community, as it specifies, “twenty families became one household, the kids were the kids of all. The loss of home turned into one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream.” (Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, 194)

The main style, which tries to cope in the novel, is that of human-to-human misconception. Steinbeck believes that most of the conflicts, which intrigue our lives today, might be fixed if men start to listen to each other, gather perseverance within themselves, and eliminate the stereotypes preconceived for each type. This might assist celebrate humanism in the society, dismiss the social oppression and would raise oppression common especially amongst the labor class.

His success as an author can be figured out by the compassion of the working class that he brings within his books. Styles of delight, justice, solitude, anger, and aggravation, are frequently sewn in his writing as they remained in the lives of the individuals during the Great Anxiety. The anguish and the oppression in between the working class in anguish and the dominant class in success, is portrayed by him as he specifies,

“How can you terrify a male whose appetite is not just in his own cramped stomach however in the sorrowful bellies of his children? You can’t frighten him he has understood a worry beyond every other.” (Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg 300).

Both the novels, tell the chaotic labor situation prevalent upon the Californian farms, in the 1936, the year when Steinbeck himself took a trip across the area, getting a more realistic photo of their scenario. This was the time of major conflict in between the farm labor and the agricultural government, who was leaving the farmers overdue, oppressed, and starving.

Strikes were a common feature, while communist leaders were on their method to begin a revolution for the labor. From the year 1935 to 1940 thousands of these farmers banished from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, to California, however, the land was still not enough to offer work or pieces of lands to these refugees. For that reason, there was a large increase of individuals, moving up and down the land trying to find tasks, for the sake of survival. As Steinbeck describes in the Grapes of Rage when Joad explains in an annoyed way that,

“It ain’t that big. The whole United States ain’t that huge. It ain’t that big. It ain’t huge enough. There ain’t space enough for you an’ me, for your kind an’ my kind, for abundant and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest guys. For appetite and fat.” (Steinbeck, pg153)

The 2 books are not composed in order to supply the historic occasions and the debates of that age; nevertheless, they present a neutral picture of the strike. They display the everyday pain of the disposed workers, in the unknown lands of California, where they are consulted with inhumane conditions made to live lives of animals.

Living for a better future and surviving through the present seems to be the struggle depicted by Steinbeck in his works. For George and Lennie, an ideal life would be when they could have their own piece of land and didn’t needed to handle a manager, as it states,

“‘Well,’ stated George, ‘we’ll have a big veggie spot and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we’ll simply say the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll develop a fire in the range and set around it an’ listen to the raincomin’ down on the roofing system.” (Steinbeck, pg 14-15).

On the other hand, the imagine the employees in “The Grapes of Rage,” are encased in prospects of endurance, holiness, and humankind. For them the future and dream was modification, a transformation which was yet to come. A case of stress and anxiety and discomfort which was started by the author in “Of Mice and Guy,” showing little imagine poor individuals, is placed to words in “The Grapes of Wrath,” where the working class is offered a hope, a path which is more sustainable to dream on. It highlights that,

“They’s a time of change, an’ when that comes, dyin’ is a piece of all dyin’, and bearin’ is a piece of all bearin’, an’ bearin’ an’ dyin’ is 2 pieces of the very same thing. An’ then things ain’t so lonely anymore. An’ then a hurt do not injured so bad.” (Steinbeck, pg 262).

The majority of the critics believe that he is excellent depicter of realism; nevertheless, one through mindful analysis just concerns understand that both “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Grapes of Rage,” do not point out the atrocities of ethnic background, nor do the raise the cry of feminism. His texts are merely symbolic representations of truth, which he conceals away in an austere, without making them books of history, rather tales of human misery and conflict.

What Steinbeck had not believed was the unfavorable criticism, which he got through his books, when they were mentioned to have a tougher language, depicting graphic scenes, which were too offending and disrespectful to a few of the readers. While some likewise thought, that Steinbeck revealed a greater compassion to the Communist view than the amount required for writing the pieces of fiction.

Mostly it was the Californian farming neighborhood, which objected their unfavorable characterization as farmers; shown as corrupt, unemotional, and disrespectful land lords unwilling to help the migrants and the working class.

It is by the end of the novel, “Of Mice and Men,” that one understands the complete significance of the title of the book, which has been drawn from Robert Burn’s poem, “To a Mouse,” in which he mentions, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft agley.”( Burns, R. 1776).

The poem talks in example of how the working class then was no much better than mice in the street, powerless, frightened, and hungry. Of how they search for work, in every season, roaming in the wild, while still not able to acquire anything beneficial. No matter the plans made by both the mice and the males never reach their location, but still hello continue to have a hard time and prepare to live the next day through hope and decision for a brighter sun to shine one day.

Moreover, the message contained by “The Grapes of Wrath,” is that of dignity and self regard, which a human must not let go of no matter how hard the scenarios are. According to Steinbeck, the family underwent the most important times of migration, loosing their children, the death of the grand parents, birth of a stillborn, but they never let the environment or the circumstance take control of their only possession that is hope and their duties upon to others.

While the landowners had established such a system of selfishness and cruelty that it sank countless families in plain poverty. Whereas the migrants unite, sharing dreams and burdens together. This reality is clearly seen when the daughter of the Joad’s family, nurses a male dying of hunger, depicting the tremendous value of human life that they hold. Despite they are illiterate and live savage life unlike the elite class, but can not see the humankind suffer, and with this very idea, the author concludes his book of suffering and hope.

The typical thread, which binds these two books together, is not the reality that it shares a typical setting or was set up in the same duration; however most notably, it talks about human suffering and misery; while Steinbeck exposes these facts through the representation of his variant characters. Whereas both the stories represented poor individuals with lofty objectives, which wound up in their dreams being destroyed by the rich and unjustified system of the governing bodies, leaving no opportunities for the poor.

The message that both his books, which end in utter disaster and a silence for the audience to comprehend the discomfort and helplessness of these migrants and their low working class; is that for Steinbeck dreams did not exist. Dreams as he suggests through his books just made the working guys, useless and enthusiastic for a piece of nothing which might not be made their own, would only leave them in higher anguish and pain.

What it needed was a greater change in the kind of a transformation, which would not only change the status of individuals, but would likewise disembark the standard thinking about the elite and powerful class. As Steinbeck states,

“In the souls of individuals the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” (Steinbeck, Grapes of Rage, pg 445).


Burns, R. (1776 ). To a Mouse. Obtained on June 16, 2009 from Susan Shillinglaw (2004 ). John

Steinbeck, American Writer. The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Researches. Retrieved on June 17, 2009 from

Steinbeck, J. (1994 ). Of Mice and Guy. Penguin Classics

Steinbeck, J. (1997 ). Grapes of Rage. Penguin Books