The Grapes of Wrath

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Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York, Viking, 1939. Frequently rpt.

Mainstream, proletarian novel, with a relevant theme and at least one highly significant section. C. B. Chabot notes that the introduction of "modern technology not only deprives" most of the farm families in the novel "of their means of securing livlihoods, but rends as well the fructifying ties to the land even of those who do remain." A man on a tractor can replace a dozen or so share-cropper families, lowering costs and increasing production, but in addition to displacing and dispossessing those families, "'The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was part of the monster, a robot in the seat'" (Steinbeck 48; qtd. Chabot 214). Cf. and contrast Steinbeck in GoW, Of Mice and Men (1937), and elsewhere on the Modern condition of isolation, loneliness, and estrangement with the literalizing of those conditions in the cellular life of humanity in E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" (1909; see above, this section). Contrast positive, "dancing," tractors in Sergei Eisenstein's Old and New (1929). (RDE, 11/06/00)