Essay Topic: "Writers often highlight the values of a culture of a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a play or novel [the Grapes of Wrath] in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character's alienation reveals the surrounding society's assumptions and moral values."
In the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, the alienation of Tom Joad in the society of California reflects the society's assumptions that migrants are no more than vagrants and that the moral values of that society are varying degrees of being unethical. Many people treat Tom Joad unfairly just because they assume that "Okies" are poor people that would rather steal than be honest.
One such incident is while the Joad family is traveling to California. They stop at a gas station to fill their gas tank, and the owner accuses Tom and the family of trying to beg free gas from him.
The owner assumes that Tom was no more than a vagrant just because he was traveling with his family. He also treats Tom unfairly because he assumes that migrants would try and steal his gasoline rather than pay for it.
Another example of alienation occurs while Tom and the Joads were camping in Hooverville. Tom gets in an argument with a deputy sheriff, because the sheriff believes that Okies should not be given jobs. The deputy assumes that Okies are worthless and would not do a good job in contributing to California's economy.
Tom and his family are treated like vagrants until they move into the government-run camp, Weedpatch. There, Tom is alienated from the greater society, but he is included in the smaller one. Tom instantly makes friends...