The oakies essay

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The oakies essay

He created a literary portrait that defined an era. Originally published inThe Grapes of Wrath remains a widely studied text in both high schools and universities, and the John Ford film of the book still enjoys healthy sales on videotape and The oakies essay reruns on classic movie shows on cable television.

The story that these various audiences hear goes like this: The oakies essay storms and bank foreclosures during the Great Depression forced a mass migration of hundreds of thousands of small landowners and sharecroppers from the American southwest, especially Oklahoma, Arkansas, and east Texas.

Enticed by false advertising, impoverished farming families loaded their possessions onto ramshackle automobiles and pickup trucks to brave the thousand-mile journey westward to California where they hoped to revive their fortunes and regain their livelihood on the land. This American version of Exodus faced its own Sinai crossing in the Arizona desert, where many vehicles broke down or ran out of gas.

Those who survived the hazardous passage to the promised land, however, found the large corporations that controlled Californian agriculture used the rapidly growing number of migrants to continually beat down harvest wages.

The Okies ended up landless, homeless, and impoverished, forced to watch their children starve in a land of plenty. Unfortunately for the reputation of the author, however, there is now an accumulation of sufficient historical, demographic, and climatic data about the s to show that almost everything about the elaborate picture created in the novel is either outright false or exaggerated beyond belief.

For a start, dust storms in the Thirties affected very little of the farming land of Oklahoma. While many Oklahoma farms suffered from drought in the mids, the only dust-affected region in that state was the narrow panhandle in the far west.

Steinbeck wrote of the dust storms: In the morning the dust hung like fog, and the sun was as red as ripe new blood.


All day the dust sifted down, and the next day it sifted down. An even blanket covered the earth. It settled on the corn, piled up on the tops of the fence posts, piled up on the wires; it settled on roofs, blanketed the weeds and trees.

But nothing like this happened anywhere near where Steinbeck placed the Joad family farm, just outside Sallisaw, Oklahoma, part of the cotton belt in the east of the state, almost on the Arkansas border.

In the real dust bowl, it is true that many families packed up and left, but the historian James N. Gregory has pointed out that less than 16, people from the dust-affected areas went to California, barely six percent of the total from the southwestern states.

Gregory blames contemporary journalists for the misunderstanding: Confusing drought with dust, and assuming that the dramatic dust storms must have had something to do with the large number of cars from Oklahoma and Texas seen crossing the California border in the mids, the press created the dramatic but misleading association between the Dust Bowl and the Southwestern migration.

It is true that many people left Oklahoma for California in the s. This was anything but a novel phenomenon, however.

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Between and1. In the s, census data show that aboutof them went to California, while in the s this total was aboutThe real mass migration of Okies to California actually took place in the s to take advantage of the boom in manufacturing jobs during World War II and its aftermath.

In this period, aboutof them went to the west coast. It was not the Depression of the 30s but the economic boom of the 40s that caused an abnormal increase in Okie migration.

The oakies essay

Moreover, most of the migrants who did leave Oklahoma in the Depression were not farmers. Most came from cities and towns. The Census showed that in the period of the supposed great Okie Exodus between andonly thirty-six percent of southwesterners who migrated to California were from farms.

Predictably, they had a similar distribution when they joined the Californian workforce. Their favorite destination was Los Angeles, which attracted almostOkies between andwith about a quarter as many going to the cities of San Francisco and San Diego. This fell considerably short of their demographic portrait in The Grapes of Wrath: And the dispossessed, the migrants, flowed into California, two hundred and fifty thousand, and three hundred thousand.

Behind them new tractors were going on the land and the tenants were being forced off. And new waves were on the way, new waves of the dispossessed and the homeless, hardened, intent and dangerous. Steinbeck blamed the banks for their plight. Rather than allowing small farms and tenant farmers the right to exist, the banks fostered competition, mechanization, land consolidation, and continual expansion.

When the monster stops growing, it dies. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it.

Related Questions

That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it. In two separate studies of the plight of southern tenant farmers in the s, the historians David Eugene Conrad and Donald H. · Steinbeck uses this background information on California to show a social criticism, that history will always ending up repeating itself.

 · Courage, it is said, is often thought of as fearlessness in the face of danger. Hover, sometimes we define true courage as bravery in the face of fear. There is a lot of fear as well as frustration exposed in this chapter. A way of life is ending and courage is needed. Please write an essay giving your opinion of the  · Web view. They were generally poor sharecroppers who were destitute after the draught and economic crash. People did not like seeing poor families who could not afford  · John Steinbeck drew from Tom Collins’s Arvin Migrant Camp reports to compose "The Grapes of Wrath." In this lesson, students consider how an author uses nonfiction sources to affect the reader’s perception of the novel’s

At one point the land of California was stolen from Mexicans by the squatters but now wealthy landowners were being stolen from migrant farmers or?Oakies? Cesar Serpa 6/23/13 Per. 2 Surviving the dust bowl essay Surviving the Dust Bowls is the frightening story about the drought that lasted for almost a decade and its impact on the life of the thousands of the people who were affected by it.

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ESSAYS, term and research papers available for UNLIMITED The oakies are forced to being landless, homeless, and starved. The police and vigilantes were against the oakies in fear that they may work together and form a riot, and consequently any oakies who complained or acted suspicious were  · The plight of the Okies and other plains migrants caught the sympathy of people across the country.

In part, this was because these migrants were white, in contrast to the Mexican and Filipino workers who supplied the "factory" farms with the seasonal labor needed before and after Okies

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