To Stay, or to Drive Into Your House

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On page 62, "..Your grandpa stood out there with a rifle, an' he blowed the headlights off that cat', but she come on just the same. Your grandpa didn't wanta kill the guy drivin' that cat', an, that was Willy Feeley, an, Willy knowed it, so he jus' come on, an' bumped the hell outa the house..." Muley explained to Joad.

I found this particular passage interesting. It demonstrates how hard-nosed, and even stubborn, the families of this time were. I do not think that a lot of the farming men back then realized that when they were tenants, the land and the house was not really their property. They knew that their parents and grandparents had fought wars against native americans and endured many other hardships along the way. That was reason enough for the land to always belong to them in their minds. I find it interesting how you see two completely different sets of values from people in the same general neighborhood. There is Muley, who refuses to leave the land even after his wife and kids pack up and move west. Then, there is Willy Feeley. Willy feels no remorse driving a car into the house of someone who he should consider his friends. Willy knew that young Tom's grandpa would not shoot him, so he takes these drastic measures to get his point across. Willy could care less if his friends were to starve, all he cares about is his own household. Muley is the complete opposite. He has so much pride that he cannot allow the banks or anyone else to drive him off his land, even if it is dead and barren. Muley hides in the fields from Willy, and at times Muley  taunts Willy by shooting at his headlights. He even sneaks up behind Willy and takes a whack at his back with a wooden plank.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/02/steinbeck_the_grapes_of_wrath/

2 Comments

Jennifer Prex said:

It is interesting to note their different ways of handling the situation. It seems to give the novel a more realistic element to it. I think it also goes along with what each of the characters value most--grandpa values his morals and his family, Muley values his property, and Willy values his job and money.

Marie vanMaanen said:

I think you make an interesting point by saying that the tenant farmers don't seem to realize they are simply tenants. These farmers have worked and lived on this land for years, so to them this is their land no matter what any document says. In this way, I feel bad for these families that something so close to them is suddenly taken from them. I also like how you point out that the people have different values. I think these differing values are representative of how the real people of the 1930s handled the situation. Some people found it more important to be together and move on while others refused to leave their land at all costs.

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