By: Ang Li
English Per. 8
Commentary on: The Grapes of Wrath
This scene occurs in the early parts of The Grapes of Wrath after Tom, along with Casy, decides to return home and before he realizes his family has abandoned their farm. In this brief intercalary chapter, a tractor driver arrives with orders from the East to drive the tenant farmers out of their homes because the bank was not making enough profits from these collective farms. In these three passages, Steinbeck illustrates the unpleasant products of technology. He explains that technology spawns machines such as tractors, which cause people to lose their affection for the land. This belief is manifested in his bleak imagery, his diction, and in his parallelism.
Steinbeck's use of bleak and unpleasant imagery throughout these passages supports his belief that technology causes people to lose their love for the land. For example, he says, "If the young thrusting plant withered in a drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor" (46).
This illustrates how technology can cause an individual, such as the tractor driver, to become completely indifferent to the plight of his land and crops. He loses his affection and compassion for the plant and becomes careless, much like the very tractor that he operates. Steinbeck writes, "Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades- not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left: slicing blades shining, polished by the cutting earth... orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion" (46). This vivid yet unspeakable imagery shows how technology harvests the earth.
Steinbeck's use of diction further...