The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
This chapter recounts the saga of the growth of farming as an industry. What allowed the Americans to seize California from the Mexicans was their hunger for the land, which overpowered any desire that the comfortable Mexicans felt. Over time, the descendants of these American squatters grow into landowners. Gradually, farms expand, and laborers are imported from overseas to aid the harvest. By this point, the owners are abusive and alienated from the harmonious, natural act of farming.
Once people become alienated from their work and the land, they become weak and complacent. This allows their land to be taken. Conversely, it is the hunger of deprivation that allows people to improve their lot. But the cycle continues, and those who were once hungry themselves become wealthier, crueler, and complacent.
Themes
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
The dispossessed Okies are forced to travel west for work. They are despised by the landowners because the owners fear their resilience, and the other Californians hate Okies because their wretchedness brings down wages.
The Okies are met with hostility because their desperate hunger threatens the comfort of the people they encounter.
Themes
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Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
The Okies live together in makeshift villages called Hoovervilles. They dream of having a small amount of land to cultivate, and some try to farm fallow land on the sly. These men are arrested for trespassing, even though they do no harm.
The trespassing incident is a clear demonstration of the way the laws of the rich serve no real purpose, except to harm those most in need. The migrants were farming unused land.
Themes
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The government raids and burns Hoovervilles on the grounds that they threaten public health. More families are displaced westward.
The government is biased against the migrants, and actively harms them without reason.
Themes
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In one of the camps, a child dies of pellagra, a disease caused by malnutrition. The child’s family receives donations from the other residents of the Hooverville.
While the rich do nothing, those with the least still pitch in to assist the less fortunate.
Themes
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon