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

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

Given that the development of humankind, guy has actually dealt with the war of dominating the land, to obtain its ownership. Be it throughout the times of the Humankind, when man fought against the wildest animals, creating its own pastures of growth and living, or the times when lands were being shaken by monstrous machines brought by the Industrial Revolution.

Lenny Grapes of Rage

Thus, it is the nature of Guy, to dominate and live in supremacy, with a group left to suffer. Nevertheless, the amount of torment is what defines the difference between guy of the Stone Age, and the guy of the IT world, the contemporary technology.

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

Steinbeck is popular for his stories, showing the war of the excellent versus the evil, and hence picks to compose the tales of the challenges faced by the people of his own soil, in the battle to develop a more powerful society. And due to his strong works and words of wisdom he was granted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

The novel, “Of Mice and Male,” has its setting situated at the time when the world was most exceptionally hit by the manifestation of the Great Anxiety, leaving it in a state of chaos, economic down turn as well as social destruction at every level. A time when issues were seen in every home, and when no one might survive without tasting its bitterness, Steinbeck enlivened the lead character of his story, George Melton, who is accompanied by his psychologically disabled good friend Lennie, which he picked directly from the convulsions of the real life.

It is believed that prior to Steinbeck began writing the book “Of Mice and Guy,” he traveled deep into the masses, investigating personally regarding the life that these wanderers and the labor class really lived.

Throughout the 1930s when the story is set, and the period making bread resembled war every day, and when labor management conflicts were on their peak, the author attempted his finest to define the sample limits of the society and the issues of tension and mental distress that it shared.

The plot of the film defines how George out of relationship attempts to carry on with Lennie, searching for a piece of land in California, when Lenie is psychologically disabled and has the fixation of keeping soft living things, be they be mice, bunnies or any other creature. George functions as a father head onto Lennie, and hence the 2 move along as immigrants searching for a ranch.

When they were at the brink of almost owning their own piece of land, Lennie, who was strong, however psychologically incapable, accidentally kills the cattle ranch owner’s daughter-in-law. George no matter is taken back by another event which will miss him the opportunity of simple survival, shoots Lennie in the back of his head, in order to prevent him from the vengeance of the victim’s partner.

The book originates from Steinbeck’s own experience and takes a trip that he made after leaving from university, in the mission of discovering the greater truth to the world. Milton and Small as the surnames of the two men describe that all the labor was dealt with, as being tiny in his book, is a symbol of the weak and poor working class who appear nothing in front of their managers and owners.

It shows how the working classes own powerlessness and marginalized position leads them to social instability, such held true of the unintentional death of Curley’s spouse, from Lennie’s hands. It spoils the world where all forms of human interactions are controlled and monitored by misconceptions, jealousy, and revenge.

While checking out the text of this novel, an individual is required to embed in his mind the scenario in which the 2 men are clinging onto each other. It is the idea of commitment, amiability, hope, and loneliness, which keeps them encapsulated in a shell of combined dream and relationship.

Another novel, which explains the scaries of a comparable noble society, ruled by the riches and condemned to live in for the poor in Steinbeck’s novel, “Grapes of Wrath.” The novel is a cruel representation of different catastrophes which befall a similar migration as that of George and Lennie, (Of Mice and Guy), other than the reality that here the entire household of the protagonist, Tom Joad, makes the incessant journey of suffering.

Both of the books show how joblessness and hunger, make the leading roles desperate for committing crime, making them murderers through the pressures of the society. As Steinbeck describing the journey of poverty, to appetite and then to crime states at one point in “Grapes of Rage,” that, “On the highways the people moved like ants and searched for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment.” (Steinbeck, pg 363)

Prior to writing this book, John Steinbeck, made a three year long research study into the lives of the working class, attempting to have an in depth analysis of their lives. Hence, the critics who claim that his books are too severe, and very cynical towards the period of Great Depression, it just shows that what had been written earlier by the remainder of the authors really had actually done not have sustenance and research study into the fact, which is way more serious than what had been portrayed by the others.

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

In the turmoil, Tom learns of the new land of California, where the federal government is distributing land to the out of work, thus taking it as the beacon of light he invests all the family’s ownership into the idea of migration from Oklahoma to California. While they are still in the method, he with his six kids, parents, better half, and son-in-law that they learn that their land of dreams was a phony alternative provided by the federal government, and the majority of the families were returning house.

Nevertheless, Tom chooses to continue with the journey, as they had nothing delegated return to. In addition, tragedies begin to pave even further into the family, when two elder kids and son-in-law desert the journey, his daughter gives birth to a still kid, and his parents pass away.

When they reach California, a strike breaks out; and they are forced to take part in them, Tom murders yet another man, and flees to compromise his life for the transformation to come. The story ends with a hope of suffering when Tom’s daughter serves as a damp nurse for a guy passing away of starvation; illustrating how the victims were willing to even offer a part of themselves in order to save each others lives.

Steinbeck elaborates various styles of human suffering and proficiency throughout his book, making it less of a piece of fiction however rather an essential social document. The book discusses the inherent 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 before they might reach the soils of the new land, as he sates, “This here is my nation. 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 concerns of justice, ownership, stewardship of land, the function of the federal government, power, upper class, and the very structures of the capitalist society. Steinbeck a master story teller, hence through the presentation and lay out of his characters is instantly able to gain his audience’s sympathy, not just for the story presented however also for the entire era of repression and disillusionment of the workforce all over the world.

They discuss the physical functions of America in the 1930’s when no matter stuck in the period of Great Depression, even the crop lands of the country were drying up, leaving the shear holders and the farmers out of task. Therefore, the lands were becoming revenue less and the renters could not even grow enough to meet their own household’s requirements.

The government in order to relieve people of their dreadful situation makes them dream of the Promised Land of California, with its rich green farms and lands which might support any sort of crop. Nevertheless, what it had shown as rewarding ended up being nothing but a lie, which Steinbeck states as “The Lost Paradise.”

There was defined range and distinction in between the working class and the labor, and it is quite evidently shown in the unique, “Of the Mice and Guy,” when George asks Lennie to be mindful in front of the boss’s child who had pride accompanied to his power. As the author states,

“Lennie’s eyes were scared. ‘I do not desire no trouble,’ he stated plaintively.’Do not 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 a lot of ’em. Like the old man says, Curley don’t take no opportunities. He constantly wins. If he contends you Lenie we’re gon na get the can. Do not make no error to that. He’s the boss’s child.'” (Steinbeck, pg 29).

A comparable idea of hierarchy is likewise established in “Grapes of Wrath,” whereby Steinbeck establishes the truth that the greatest suffering brought to the migrants was not through bad climate condition or the problems dealt with during taking a trip, but rather their fellow people brought it. The tragedy, which encapsulates the working of every society, is the distinction endowed by historical, social and cost-effective difference, which divide people into categorize of abundant and poor, landowner and tenant, with the dominant employers struggling to maintain their positions by all means.

Steinbeck relates the hazards brought by the migrants to the landowners of California, by relating history of their existence in “Grapes of Wrath,” mentioning how the present owners had initially come themselves as migrants, had actually taken the fields from Mexican occupants, hence the new coming migrants were a worry of history duplicating itself. As he estimates, “Guy who had never ever fluctuate wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants.” (Steinbeck, pg 362)

Therefore in order to protect themselves, the landowners attempted to develop such a system that it dealt with the migrants worse than animals, when they are moved from one road side camp to the other, are used earnings less than the very little wage law, and are forced to live with hatred against their own kind. Furthermore, the main conflict, which existed between the two classes that is the elite and the labor class, was the lack of education and awareness, which left them weak and weak. As George in “Of Mice and Male,” when states that,

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

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

More than the conflict of human classes there is likewise the existence of guy abilities being taken over by the coming era of maker life, whereby human labor is left without work by more efficient and less time-consuming machines taking control of his working abilities.

The writer determines this also as a time when America was moving steadily towards a structural change, which left individuals more jobless an effect of the Industrial Revolution. Individuals were unskilled, illiterate, and poor or they were the one in charges running the ranches, which was causing the development of farming co-operations, leaving the poor farmers out of work. As Steinbeck states in “Grapes of Wrath,”

“And now the terrific owners and the companies created a brand-new method. A fantastic owner purchased a cannery. And when the peaches and the pears were ripe he cut the price of fruit listed below the price of raising it. And as cannery owner he paid himself a low cost for the fruit and kept the rate of canned items up and took his profit.”(Steinbeck, 363).

The part when “Of Mice and Guy,” speaks about loneliness and the greed of every individual to attain more pleasant relations, “Grapes of Wrath,” demonstrate how saving a household and its custom keeps the people alive bequeathing them with hope and the power to struggle. Tired from traveling with little hope, and taking abuses from different bosses, George at many points marks out to Lennie that, “Men like us, that work on cattle ranches, are the loneliest people in the world. They got no family. They do not belong no place.” (Steinbeck, Of Mice and Male, pg 15)

While in the other book it is seen that Joad discovers himself automatically attached to all the other households moving on the roadway with him, and a sense of commitment to one another, which affirms a chains more powerful than that of blood. Even at work, the 2 groups combine sharing each others challenges as well as fighting for survival as a neighborhood, as it states, “twenty households became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream.” (Steinbeck, Grapes of Rage, 194)

The primary theme, which tries to cope in the unique, is that of human-to-human misunderstanding. Steinbeck believes that the majority of the disputes, which enthrall our lives today, could be resolved if males begin to listen to each other, gather perseverance within themselves, and get rid of the stereotypes preconceived for each type. This could help celebrate humanism in the society, dismiss the social oppression and would raise injustice common particularly amongst the labor class.

His greatness as an author can be identified by the empathy of the working class that he brings within his books. Themes of happiness, justice, isolation, anger, and disappointment, are typically sewn in his writing as they remained in the lives of the people throughout the Great Depression. The suffering and the injustice between the working class in distress and the dominant class in success, is portrayed by him as he states,

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

Both the novels, narrate the chaotic labor situation prevalent upon the Californian farms, in the 1936, the year when Steinbeck himself took a trip throughout the area, getting a more sensible image of their situation. This was the time of major dispute in between the farm labor and the farming government, who was leaving the farmers overdue, oppressed, and starving.

Strikes were a common function, while communist leaders were on their method to begin a revolution for the labor. From the year 1935 to 1940 countless these farmers exiled from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, to California, nevertheless, the land was still insufficient to provide work or pieces of lands to these refugees. For that reason, there was a large increase of individuals, going up and down the land trying to find tasks, for the sake of survival. As Steinbeck explains in the Grapes of Rage when Joad discusses in a disappointed way that,

“It ain’t that big. The entire United States ain’t that huge. It ain’t that big. It ain’t huge enough. There ain’t room enough for you an’ me, for your kind an’ my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for burglars and honest males. For appetite and fat.” (Steinbeck, pg153)

The two books are not written in order to offer the historical events and the debates of that era; however, they provide an impartial picture of the strike. They display the daily 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 enduring through the present seems to be the battle depicted by Steinbeck in his works. For George and Lennie, a perfect life would be when they could have their own piece of land and didn’t had to deal with a boss, as it states,

“‘Well,’ said George, ‘we’ll have a huge vegetable spot and a bunny hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter season, we’ll simply state the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll develop a fire in the stove and set around it an’ listen to the raincomin’ down on the roofing.” (Steinbeck, pg 14-15).

On the other hand, the imagine the workers in “The Grapes of Wrath,” are enclosed in prospects of endurance, holiness, and mankind. For them the future and dream was change, a revolution which was yet to come. A case of stress and anxiety and pain which was begun by the author in “Of Mice and Guy,” revealing little imagine poor people, is placed to words in “The Grapes of Wrath,” where the working class is offered a hope, a course which is more sustainable to dream on. It highlights that,

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

The majority of the critics believe that he is excellent depicter of realism; nevertheless, one through cautious analysis only concerns recognize that both “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Grapes of Rage,” do not point out the atrocities of ethnicity, nor do the raise the cry of feminism. His texts are simply symbolic representations of reality, which he hides away in an austere, without making them books of history, rather tales of human misery and conflict.

What Steinbeck had not thought was the unfavorable criticism, which he gained through his books, when they were stated to have a harder language, depicting graphic scenes, which were too offending and impolite to some of the readers. While some likewise believed, that Steinbeck revealed a greater compassion to the Communist view than the quantity needed for writing the pieces of fiction.

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

It is by the end of the novel, “Of Mice and Men,” that a person comprehends the complete significance of the title of the book, which has been drawn from Robert Burn’s poem, “To a Mouse,” in which he states, “The very best laid plans 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, afraid, and starving. Of how they look for work, in every season, roaming in the wild, while still not able to gain anything beneficial. No matter the plans made by both the mice and the men never ever reach their destination, however still hey continue to struggle and plan to live the next day through hope and decision for a brighter sun to shine one day.

Additionally, the message consisted of by “The Grapes of Wrath,” is that of dignity and self respect, which a human ought to not let go of no matter how hard the situations are. According to Steinbeck, the family went through the most important times of migration, loosing their kids, the death of the grand moms and dads, birth of a stillborn, but they never ever let the environment or the circumstance take over their only ownership that is hope and their responsibilities upon to others.

While the landowners had developed such a system of selfishness and ruthlessness that it sank countless families in plain poverty. Whereas the migrants unite, sharing dreams and burdens together. This fact is clearly seen when the child of the Joad’s family, nurses a male passing away of hunger, illustrating the enormous value of human life that they hold. Despite they are illiterate and live savage life unlike the elite class, however can not see the humankind suffer, and with this extremely notion, the author concludes his book of suffering and hope.

The typical thread, which binds these two books together, is not the truth that it shares a common setting or was set up in the very same period; but most importantly, it talks about human suffering and torment; while Steinbeck exposes these realities through the depiction of his variant characters. Whereas both the stories represented poor people with lofty goals, which ended up in their dreams being ruined by the rich and unjustified system of the governing bodies, leaving no chances for the bad.

The message that both his books, which end in utter tragedy and a silence for the audience to grasp the pain and vulnerability of these migrants and their low working class; is that for Steinbeck dreams did not exist. Dreams as he suggests through his novels just made the working guys, useless and enthusiastic for a piece of absolutely nothing which could not be made their own, would only leave them in greater misery and pain.

What it required was a greater modification in the kind of a transformation, which would not just change the status of individuals, however would likewise disembark the standard thinking of the elite and powerful class. As Steinbeck states,

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


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

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

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

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