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FC: The Grapes of Wrath | Chapter 19 | by John Steinbeck
1: S | Summary | Chapter 19 opens with how California began. Owners started off as settlers, who fought the Mexicans for land. These settlers started farms, which became small businesses, which then merged to become larger businesses. As their businesses encompassed more land, the owners developed more shrewd and unscrupulous methods. The number of owners dwindled while the workforce grew in size. Once the Great Depression hits, migrant workers from the Dust Bowl flood into California. The owners pay the migrants meager wages, and a social stigma develops concerning the migrant workers, who are hated and penniless, but oddly enough, feared. As workers become more desperate to make enough just so that they could feed their families, owners become more afraid of a revolt. They themselves know that "when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away" (Steinbeck 238). The owners band together to defend against this migrant threat, while the migrant workers go on praying and hoping for a better life (Steinbeck 231-39).
2: "And the great owners, whose must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact... repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on" (Steinbeck 238). | The central theme for the passage represent how how the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. This shows how the rich ostracize the poor, which causes the poor to unite as a single body; however, this is what the landowners fear.
3: a | "Now farming became industry, and the owners followed Rome, although they did not know it. They imported slaves, although they did not call them slaves: Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos. They live on rice and beans, the business men said. They don't need much. They wouldn't know what to do with good wages. Why, look how they live. Why, look what they eat. And if they get funny - deport them" (Steinbeck 232). | This passage uses an allusion to emphasize the development of an aristocracy within the society of California. The owners exert a harsh rule upon the workers; this mistreatment is a central theme of the novel as it reflects the shattering of hope when migrants actually reach California.
4: "And while the Californians wanted many things, accumulation, social success, amusement, luxury, and a curious banking security, the new barbarians wanted only two things - land and food; and to hem the two were one. And whereas the wants of the Californians were nebulous and undefined the wants of the Okies were beside the roads... A man might look at a fallow field and know, and see in his mind that his own bending back and his own straining arms would bring the cabbages into the light, and the golden eating corn, the turnips and carrots" (Steinbeck 234). | While the "Okies" see so much potential in the land, the Californians take it for granted and leave it unused. Similar to the passage with the tractor, if the Californians expressed a touch of humanity and used the land, the "Okies" would not be in such a dire position. Once again the theme of owners abusing workers is expressed.
5: Literary Elements | "What if some time an army of [farmers] marches on the land as the Lombards did in Italy, as the Germans did on Gaul and the Turks did on Byzantium" (Steinbeck 236). | ALLUSION | These allusions are examples that parallel the devastation that a farmers' revolt could bring upon the land. | "A man might work and feed himself; and when the work was done, he might find that he owed money to the company. And the owners not only did not work the farms any more, many of them had never seen the farms they owned" (Steinbeck 233). | A man performs work but ends up with more debts that he started with, almost as a form of punishment for trying to do some good in this world. One would expect the situation to turn out otherwise. | IRONY
6: "We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land" (Steinbeck 233). | SIMILE | The comparison of migrant workers to scurrying ants signifies the degree of disorganization and chaos among them. Similarly, it highlights the insignificance of the workers in the eyes of the wealthy owners. The owners want the tenants disorganized so that they can take advantage of them. However, if the workers organize, there lies the threat that they may rise against the owners. | Colloquialism | "We ain't foreign. Seven generations back Americans, and beyond that Irish, Scotch, ENglish, German. One of our folks in the Revolution, an' they was lots of our folks in the Civil War - both sides. Americans" (Steinbeck 233). | Steinbeck solidifies his position from the point of view of the farmers; he conveys how the farmer's forefathers fought for their place and so the land belongs to them as well. The allusion of the Civil War and the Revolutionary War adds a sense of cultural pride.
7: Stylistic Elements | "And in the south he saw the golden oranges hanging on the trees, the little golden oranges on the dark green trees; and guards with shotguns patrolling the lines so a man might not pick up an orange for a thin child, oranges to be dumped if the price was low" (Steinbeck 234). | Compound / Complex Sentence | The sentence begins with a clause that signals hope through the "golden oranges," but ends with the clause on the other side of the semicolon that knocks down that hope with "guards with shotguns" (Steinbeck 234).