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Depiction of The Great Depression and Dust Bowl in The Grapes of Wrath

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Words: 1709 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 1709|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

The Great Depression was the worst economic crisis in the history of the world. It started after the financial exchange crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a frenzy and cleared out a huge number of investors. By 1933, when the Great Depression achieved its absolute bottom, about 15 million Americans were jobless and almost a large portion of the nation's banks had failed. To make the situation worse, there was another drastic event, the Dust Bowl, severe dust storms affecting the southern region of the United States. As high breezes and stifling residue cleared the locale from Texas to Nebraska, individuals and animals were murdered and harvests flopped over the whole district. The Dust Bowl intensified the economic impacts of the Great Depression and caused families on a desperate migration in search of work and better living conditions. Okies, farm families hoping to look for some kind of employment from the Southern Plains, moved to California during the 1930s to get away from the ruin of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

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The movie, The Grapes of Wrath, opens with Tom Joad, discharged from jail and on his way home to his ranch in Oklahoma. Tom eventually finds Jim Casy, his old preacher. Casey was the family preacher of Tom and was the one who baptized Tom, eventually Jim felt it was a time for change and lost a bit of himself, he felt lost especially his confidence. Tom and Casey travel to Tom’s home only to find it empty. At the place, they meet Muley Graves. Miley explains how farmers all around are being forced off by larger corporations. Soon, the entire Joad family, twelve people and Casy, decide the best option now is to head over to California. They keep all of their belongings in a small truck and head on down highway 66. The entire trip is daunting and tiresome. As time passes along the road, negative events start to take shape, first one being the death of grandpa. The family is in no situation to afford or even conducts a proper funeral, so they just buried him with a piece of paper, talking abotut his death, so people dont deem it a murder. Not long after they lose grandma and the children Noah, and Connie. Eventually, the family arrives at the first migrant workplace for laborers and finds the camp is packed with other starving, jobless and frantic voyagers. Conflicts start and The Joads advance toward another camp, the Keene Ranch. Soon, Tom and Cast decide to go and explore a nearby strike. A guard ends up killing Cast, and Tom ends up killing the guard. The family decides it is time to leave and they create a clever plan to get Tom out. A few hours later they hide Tom under the cushions of the truck, as gatekeepers come to ask the family questions. Tom avoids capture and the family leaves safely. Sadly, the engine fails and the family is stop on top of a hill. With little gas left, they decide to head to the nearest lights. After a couple of hours, the engine started to give away and the car started to run low on gas. The family decided to stop by a third camp, which had toilets and showers. After all the events Tom has witnessed, he decides to work for change. Casy’s death will not fall in vain and he will carry on the fight for social justice. He leaves the family and the movie ends with Ma joad discussing the family's situation.

The Grapes of Wrath is a successful work of fiction with a goal of giving a voice to the thousands, as a result, the Joads. In spite of the fact that the film does portray some historic scenes accurately there are significant differences between the movie and history that do affect the value of the movie. These inaccuracies include portraying the Okie's future, the Joads as a whole, what okies experienced amid the time they were expelled from their farms, through the duration of their adventure west, and how they were viewed as/ reacted to their current situation.

The movie The Grapes of Wrath inaccurately portrayed Okie families through the Joads and other children. In the movie we meet the members of the Joad family, twelve people from Oklahoma. This is very deceiving as, the typical Okie family amid the Dust Bowl had around 2. 8 kids with an average life expectancy age of thirty years of age. A good portion of the movie we meet grandpa and grandma. Grandpa and grandma Joad are well over thirty. In the early stages of the movie both are depicted as feeble and unable to move sometimes without assistance. Ma and Pa are both younger, but again both well above thirty. These characters were used to appeal to the audience's pity, as they see the elderly unable to live of peace during their time of retirement. Interestingly enough when the family arrives at their first camp, they witness plenty of starving families and children. There were plenty of scenes where it emphasizes the situation. Nonetheless, only migrant children and families who were left hungry were those who rejected aid of the Farm Security Administration (FSA). These families and kids were clearly under the FSA. These inaccuracies are fairly significant due to them changing the number of characters that should be in the movie as well as the current situation of other characters. Even though this inaccuracy is fairly significant, I don’t believe that it heavily diminishes the value of the movie because the number of Joads doesn't play a significant role in the movie, the grandparents even pass away early in the movie and the family is overshadowed by the rest of the plot. The FSA situation doesn’t diminish the fact that families and kids around the world are still starving.

Another inaccuracy is the portrayal of the government and corporations in the movie. In The Grapes of Wraththe, the government and corporations are depicted as working together eliminates farmers wages. Hilariously enough, none of these corporations were in any standing to make such actions. In fact, it was the Okies that determined the earnings of each worker. FSA provided camps for the workers, and the government worked to help with Okies employment at farms. Ultimately, this gave Okies the chance to start their own harvest. These employments would have allowed Okies to cultivate their very own harvests while procuring great wages, yet in the movie it is clearly shown the Joad family hopping from camp to camp because of how bad the camps are. This inaccuracy is very significant. Throughout the whole movie, the audience instantly categorizes the corporations as the culprit behind it all. Fifteen minutes into the movie we see a fellow Okie demolishing his peers’ houses. He did it because he is being paid well and this just angered the Joads even more. When he was threatened with a gun, he just says “you won't do it, and if you do there's going to be fifteen others like me, who will take my spot. ” The whole movie depicts other families, who are also forced to leave their settlement due to the government and corporations. This makes it seem like the government and corporations are the one behind this, however they are not.

Lastly, the Joad family and all okies are considered victims throughout the whole movie. It is clearly seen that they are kicked off their farms, living through terrible conditions, facing harsh obstacles and are the victims. Historically this is inaccurate because the farmers are the ones that were damaging their soils. Farmers are accused of accidentally creating the conditions of the dust bowl because the government failed to teach farmers of the southwest about soil conversation. Farmers were not aware of the crop rotation methods nor did they understand the risks and damage of farming a piece of land for a season then moving on. This inaccuracy is significant because it inaccurately depicted the government and farmers. The whole movie conveys the farmers as victims, so that they can appeal to the audience. This is constantly seen throughout the movie, the death of the grandparents, casy and constant struggles. The family blames everyone but themselves.

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In conclusion, the movie The Grapes of Wrath portrays an Okie family, the Joads, journey to California during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. However, there are significant differences present between the movie and history that impact the value of the movie. The movie portrayed the Okies and Joad family as the only innocent victims of the Great Depression, This was a significant difference as it inaccurately portrayed the entire life of the Okies diminishing the value of the movie. Also, the movie incorrectly characterized some characters, like grandma and grandpa. Their presence is highly inaccurate as life expectancy during this time is only thirty. With all of these inaccuracies, some may question if the movie can actually be regarded as historically significant, while some believe that these inaccuracies don’t do much to hurt the value of the movie, but in the end, it is all a matter of perception and opinion.

Bibliography

  1. Fusfeld, Daniel R. 'The Next Great Depression. ' Nebraska Journal of Economics and Business 18, no. 2 (1979): 3-13. http://www. jstor. org/stable/40472629.
  2. BRAEMAN, JOHN. 'THE DUST BOWL: AN INTRODUCTION. ' Great Plains Quarterly 6, no. 2 (1986): 67-68. http://www. jstor. org/stable/23530538.
  3. Mexican Migrants during the Depression Era. ' Peabody Journal of Education 67, no. 4 (1990): 29-45. http://www. jstor. org/stable/1492679.
  4. Gregory, James N. 'Dust Bowl Legacies: The Okie Impact on California, 1939-1989. ' California History 68, no. 3 (1989): 74-85. doi:10. 2307/25462394.
  5. McDEAN, HARRY C. 'DUST BOWL HISTORIOGRAPHY. ' Great Plains Quarterly 6, no. 2 (1986): 117-26. http://www. jstor. org/stable/23530543.
  6. Crafts, Nicholas, and Peter Fearon. 'Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression. ' Oxford Review of Economic Policy 26, no. 3 (2010): 285-317. http://www. jstor. org/stable/43664566.
  7. Porter, Jess C. 'What Was the Dust Bowl? Assessing Contemporary Popular Knowledge. ' Population and Environment35, no. 4 (2014): 391-416. http://www. jstor. org/stable/24769623
  8. 'Reel American History - Films - List. ' Lehigh University Digital Library. Accessed May 31, 2019. http://digital. lib. lehigh. edu/trial/reel_new/films/list/1_70_9_111. ’
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Depiction Of The Great Depression And Dust Bowl In The Grapes Of Wrath. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/depiction-of-the-great-depression-and-dust-bowl-in-the-grapes-of-wrath/
“Depiction Of The Great Depression And Dust Bowl In The Grapes Of Wrath.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/depiction-of-the-great-depression-and-dust-bowl-in-the-grapes-of-wrath/
Depiction Of The Great Depression And Dust Bowl In The Grapes Of Wrath. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/depiction-of-the-great-depression-and-dust-bowl-in-the-grapes-of-wrath/> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Depiction Of The Great Depression And Dust Bowl In The Grapes Of Wrath [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/depiction-of-the-great-depression-and-dust-bowl-in-the-grapes-of-wrath/
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