Weeds Free Essay Example
John Steinbeck’s beloved novel, The Grapes of Wrath, chronicles the plight of 1930’s migrant farmers in the devastating American Great Depression. The author repeatedly emphasizes the resentment of wealthy landowners towards the farmers whom they employ for pitiful wages in order to maximize their own gain. Steinbeck effectively conveys the landowners’ view of the migrant workers as dispensable, inferior, and detrimental to their business, like “weed roots that may drink the water away from the trees” (347). The bounties of California, blossoming in the minds of the migrant farmers desperate for work, are indeed as lush as they were dreamed to be; what the farmers find out too late is that the few who control this land of milk and honey are willing to maximize their income at the expense of their workers. If one farmer will not accept the low salary, another will take his place without question and depending on their hunger, their need, their desperation, the wages sink lower and lower. The employers see the migrant farmers as weeds which take water, or profit, from the trees that are businesses.
The oppression of the migrant farmers as they are systematically forced to work more for less salary directly parallels Steinbeck’s portrayal of them as weeds to be exterminated for the full profit of the ideal harvest. This comparison emphasizes the dehumanization of both the migrant farmers in the eyes of their employers and the employers in the eyes of their workers: the farmers as disposable and inferior beings who do nothing but decrease the employers’ total earnings and the landowners as apathetic and selfish machines willing to jeopardize the lives of thousands of families to maximize their own gain.