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The Film “Grapes of Wrath” by John Ford Essay

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Updated: Dec 23rd, 2021

In the film ‘Grapes of Wrath’ directed by John Ford; poverty is the antagonist and seems a similar case with modern poverty. In this case, the theme of poverty described in the film has some similarities with the modern concept of poverty. Based on this, Muley in a flashback explains the way tenants all over the region were forced out from their farms by landowners, and their houses knocked down with caterpillars.

From this, it can be argued that the present-day peasants and squatters live in poverty because of their lack of land. From the film, the tenants who have been permitted to cultivate crops by landowners in return for a set quantity of crop per unit of land; were described as the poor. In this case, these tenants were being exploited by the landowners by being forced out from the land; in the case they did not give back the required amount of produce in return. Further, it can be said that the poverty of the tenants resulted from the famine, economic adversities, and changes in the agriculture industries; which occurred during the great depression in America.

It should also be noted that most of the current peasants and squatters in the United States do not have land title deeds; thus experienced exploitations from their masters who force them out from their lands at the time they please. It can further be argued that the film portrayed the theme of poverty to appear like the modern world’s causes of poverty. Based on the modern cases of poverty, the landless are being exploited by the landowners by being forced to work on their land; only to be given low wages. On the other hand, Joad’s family together with Casy moves for a long distance to look for employment in California.

In this case, the film outlines clearly how unemployment had contributed to poverty in this area. Based on this, the modern disadvantaged societies in America are faced with the problem of unemployment; which forces them to move all over the United States in search of employment. In modern societies, poverty has been fueled by the lack of adequate employment opportunities all over the world. It is of importance to note that when poverty strikes, the weak and the old are mostly affected as can be seen from the film with Grandpa in the Joad family.

On the other hand, poverty makes the Joad’s family be in a place where they were not needed like the meeting in the woods which resulted in Casy’s death. Based on this, the modern rich people fear the poor from forming a group secretly to fight for their rights through strikes. In the film, the poor are socially discriminated which culminate in their efforts in fighting for social reforms through movements; committed to social justice.

From this, it can be argued that the film’s depiction of poverty is more or less similar to the modern poverty cases where the poor are discriminated against by the rich; a case that results in social injustices among them. It can further be argued that the prices of food and other prices at Keene Ranch were very high and they were monopolized since there was only one store. In this case, the farmworkers were forced to buy food and other products from that store.

It should be noted that in modern society, large ranches are owned by rich individuals or groups of individuals; who employ poor black people to work in these ranches. It is further of importance to note that, these farmworkers are paid lowly and forced to buy foods and other goods from the stores within the ranches at very high prices. Based on this, since the farm workers are in need of money; they endure the exploitations they experience from the landowners.

Additionally, the poor are sympathetically portrayed in the film where the film’s director illustrates the tenants as homeless and wanderers. Based on this, the grandma and grandpa died on their way to California. On the other hand, when the Joad family reached Bakersfield where they were expecting to get jobs; they were disappointed to understand that a lot of immigrants had come and the wages lowered with the increase of the immigrants as there were a lot of workers.

Further, the poor were coned to work without pay which resulted in a fight and shooting of a woman when they realized it. Moreover, the cops were harassing the Joads and Casy was arrested. It should further be noted that this film portrayed what is still happening in the United States where the Hispanic migrant workers are treated unjustly.

Further, the migrants are portrayed as the good guys in the film as they help each other whenever in need. A good example here is when Tom was hidden by the family members not to be caught by the cops when he killed one cop. Still, at the same point, the workers helped each other as we can see Tom killing a cop to ravage Casy’s death. On the other hand, Casy was pleading with the cops against wage cuts on behave of the other refugee workers.

In addition, the cops in the film are considered as bad guys as they beat and kill tenants whenever they protested for their wages cut. A good example here is the instance when Casy was pleading with the cops not to cut their salaries to save their children from starvation. In this case, Casy was beaten to death by the cops resulting in Tom killing one of the cops; in a fight to ravage Casy. Additionally, the cops are considered as bad guys for cutting the workers’ wages making it hard for the workers to meet their requirements.

It can further be argued that the government is portrayed as good guys since at the ‘Shafter/Arvin government Workers’ Camp’; migrants live in a civilized, clean campsites where they oversee themselves. On the other hand the government is portrayed as federal government as it offers good working conditions to the migrant workers at the ‘Arvin Federal Government Camp.

It can further be argued that, the poverty in America today has no difference to what was portrayed in fiction in 1930. In this case, the poor continue to get poorer by being exploited by the rich. From the film it can be seen that, the poor migrants were being exploited by the landowners through low wage payment. On the other hand, the rich continues to get richer in America by exploiting the poor in terms of low pay and high prices of produced goods. It is of importance to note that, the blacks are mainly the poor in America as it was depicted by from the film since they can not afford the means of production.

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