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Grapes of Wrath Essay
Because of the devastating disaster of the dust bowl, the Joad family was forced to leave their long-time home and find work and a new life elsewhere. They, like many other families, moved to California. "The land of milk and honey". The people in the dust bowl imagined California as a haven of jobs where they would have a nice little white house and as much fruit as they could eat. This dream was far from the reality the migrant farmers faced once in California. The dreams, hopes, and expectations the Joads had of California were crushed by the reality of the actual situation in this land of hate and prejudice.
The Joads dream of owning a nice white house and being overwhelmed with fruit was quickly put to end after their first night in California. Ma says, "But I like to think how nice it\'s gonna be, maybe, in California. Never cold. An\' fruite ever\'place, an\' people just bein\' in the nicest places, little white houses in among the orange trees." They had been lied to by the handbills and other propaganda that was circulating in the dust bowl region. The growers in California knew that the people of the dust bowl would have to leave their houses because of the crisis. They also knew the more pickers they had the lower they could make their prices. The number of handbills sent out far out numbered the number of jobs available. Many people in the dust bowl were constructing a view of California that was devastatingly false. However most of the people had to go somewhere, and all they knew was agriculture, so the natural thing was to go to the only place in the country at that time that was in peak agricultural condition. This was all true in the case of the Joads. They had no experience with any other kind of lifestyle. They were farmers and they thought that was what they would remain. What they became was job hunters, starving and hungry people, and homeless vagrants. California was no dream land, but the exact opposite. A promised heaven that was revealed to be a very real hell.
During the long journey to California the Joads, and other migrant travelers, encountered many warnings of what California was going to be like from migrants who were returning home, mostly destroyed by the true reality of California. They got a warning in the camp they stayed at on the side of the road while Tom, Al, and Casey were fixing the car. There was a ragged man there that told a gruesome story of his experience in California. He told of the land that was good but was not being farmed. He told of the Hoovervilles and dirty living situation of the migrants. He told of how his own children and died because he couldn\'t get a job to feed them. He said, "Sompein it took me a year to find out. Took two kids dead, took my wife dead to show me.....". The Joads were warned again right near the border of California, by the river, where they stop to camp. The men go down to the river to get cool and encounter a man and his son. They tell of how bad it is in California. They are returning home. Of course what the Joads hear doesn\'t in the slightest encourage them to turn back. They can\'t. Their lives back home have been destroyed by the dust and they only have one chance at a good future. California is that chance. They must keep a good image of her in their minds so they don\'t go crazy with fear. It\'s not that they don\'t believe any of the people, it\'s that they don\'t fully want to believe. The Joads continued on to California, despite al the warnings on the road they had received, because there was just no other possible future for the family.
Upon entering California the Joads got a glimpse of the unused farm land and their first taste that the rumors they had heard on the road about California, were in fact true. They drove down the road and would gaze at all the land that wasn\'t being used to produce food
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Dust Bowl, Great Plains, United States, Great Depression in the United States, American studies, U.S. Route 66, California culture, The Grapes of Wrath, Okie, Hooverville, California
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