Red

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I thought it was interesting how any person trying to unionize the workers they are called "red". For example,

"The contractor turned back to the men. "You fellas don't want ta listen to these goddamn reds. Troublemakers--they'll get you in trouble"" (264).

Red to me always means communism, the red scare and all that, so calling these people red is basically calling them communists. These individuals were feared as radicals who wanted everyone to receive a fair amount from some authority. I never thought that the struggle of the workers, or the Joad family themselves would be compared to communism. Also, the act of "blacklisting" someone was something that also happened during the red scare. I just barely noticed this little fact and thought it was interesting.

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Alyssa Sanow said:

I didn't draw that connection at all! Now that you point it out, it seems obvious. Could Steinbeck be using the idea that they are "reds" to justify or rationalize the violence against them? Yes, the Joads are a pitiful family in a sympathetic situation, but if they're communists (or at least Tom is) then is the violence by the police who are simply trying to keep the peace ok?

Steinbeck's arguments -- that ownership of property makes people less human, and that workers have to stick together -- is fairly consistent with communist philosophy, but I don't think he ever formally identified himself as a communist (though he was accused of being one many times).

You could take his book as an argument against the corporatization of agriculture without necessarily seeing it as an argument for communism. In that case, the quote you found would be a good source of evidence. (Evidence for what claim? I'll leave that up to you.)

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