The Grapes of Wrath


John Steinbeck

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The Grapes of Wrath: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

This chapter is narrated from the point of view of a used car salesman. He advises his employees to exploit customers in order to make bigger sales by looking for their psychological weaknesses. It becomes clear that Oklahomans’ westward search for work has driven up demand for automobiles, and the ignorant farmers are easily coerced into paying the salesman’s exorbitant, unfair prices for broken-down cars. One migrant even tries to trade his mules for a jalopy, but is told that his animals have no place in this mechanized age. Throughout the chapter, the car dealer repeatedly fantasizes about having still more cars to sell.
The car salesman’s perspective shows that he has been dehumanized by his greed. He only cares about selling cars, and is happy to undermine the psychological well-being of desperate Oklahomans, not to mention sell them crappy cars for exorbitant prices when they are already desperately poor, just to increase his bottom line. Additionally, the dismissal of the farmer’s mules articulates the role that advancing technology plays in these changing times.
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