Okies Vs. Californians
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, is a novel depicting the Okies migration to California during the period in history known as The Dustbowl. In this novel Steinbeck attempts to display the tensions between the Okies and the Californians. This display can be closely compared to today’s tensions between citizens born in the US and the Immigrants. Great pieces of literature are timeless in the lessons they teach and the controversy they portray.
The tensions between the Okies and the Californians were heated, as are most tensions dealing with land and immigration. The Okies wanted only two things: food and land. ‘…the new barbarians wanted only one thing – land and food: and to them the two were one.’; The ‘barbarians’; only moved out to California to escape the treacherous conditions of Oklahoma and surrounding states suffering from the Dustbowl; the were attempting to create a better life for their families. The Californians wanted all the luxuries in life, they were living in a land free of Dustbowl worries. ‘…the Californians wanted many things, accumulation, social success, amusement, luxury, and a curious banking security…’; The Californians had already established the conditions that the Okies were in search of. They were now attempting to attain extras, and feared that the arrival of the Okies would halt this endeavor. The Okies motives were much nobler than the Californians’; but the Californians still felt that the Okies had no right to invade their land. ‘And whereas the wants of the Californians were nebulous and undefined the wants of the Okies were beside the roads, lying there to be seen and coveted;#8230;’; The Californians did not know what they wanted; their dreams were very unclear. The Okies intentions, on the other hand, were very clear and important.
This tension still exists today between Immigrants and US born citizens. Immigration is a constant topics of discussion among politicians, and the US population as a whole. US born citizens become tense with the arrivals of Immigrants; the US citizens are attempting to achieve their American Dream; these Immigrants are, in their minds, and obstacle on their path to success. Like the Californians in the Grapes of Wrath; the Americans have already attained their needs and are attempting to secure luxuries. These immigrants are like the Okies, coming to escape conditions that would halt them from providing for their families. The Americans’ dreams have become ‘nebulous and undefined,’; while the immigrants’ dreams are still ‘coveted.’;
While the Dustbowl is over; issues that arose during the time still exist. It is impressive that a novel written 60 years ago can deal with issues that society faces today. Not many novels are able to withstand the test of time and change. The Grapes of Wrath is truly a timeless classic.