Crime and Punishment?

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"Yeah, but the kids was hungry. It's Stealin'. though." (Steinbeck 237).

Chapter 19 talks about the people who started on the land with what seemed like good intentions then grew into "the man" that keeps everybody down. Beside all of this the talk about industrialization Steinbeck raises a relatively common moral question: If you are starving is it ok to steal food? He goes into several examples of people do bad things and dont get in trouble but the poor man who steals to survive goes down. 
He shows us the example of a man who went and got some random people to work on some land, payed them with whisky and food, while he made money. (or the land owners throughout the whole book)
Then about people who bribe the government to look the other way, or people who commit fraud, all these people do bad things and get away with it but someone who is trying to survive and feed his family gets in trouble. 
Steinbeck shows that he understands why it happens( when he has the people agree that it is bad) and he also shows that no one does anything about it even though it is wrong.

I think another part of this chapter that is important to the idea of painting the "upper class" as bad was in the end when a child gets sick and dies, all the people were able to find a little money, from the little they had, to help his family to bury him. THis shows how even though the poor have nothing they are so kind hearted and good they will give what little they have to help.
 Maybe if they didnt they would be rich.


Alicia Campbell said:

You're absolutely right! This question is one that was brought up in my high school psychology course many times, and we could never reach a clear conclusion. Constantly throughout the novel, Steinbeck suggests that being kind and rich cannot coexist. In fact, he reveals this idea very early in the work when the truck driver struggles over whether or not to give Tom a ride. This may not have involved money exactly, but it was the same principle. Although the truck driver ended up giving Tom a lift, the hesitation was there. In contrast, the Joads, especially Ma, do not hesitate to feed the hungry or provide a ride, regardless of what little food or space they may have. There is also the passage that describes the transformation from "we" to "I" that coincides with gaining wealth.

I like what you're doing here, in terms of looking at the events in the story through the lens of morality.

It is, however, risky to use a fictional work in order to prove something about the real world. Yes, Steinbeck wants us to see these poor people as selfless, and wants us to see how much stronger they are when they are together (remember Ma's furious reaction to the first suggestion to break up the family?). But these are characters in a novel.. we can't really use the events in the novel in order to prove a point about the outside world. We can, however, observe that Steinbeck represents the poor as selfless and noble.

Yes, Alicia, you bring up another good quotation.

Julianne Banda said:

I agree! I like that you spotted this because i definitely did not. Also, I agree with Alicia when she said "Steinbeck suggests that being kind and rich cannot coexist." I did notice this, it seems like the kindest people are the ones with so much to lose and barely anything to give, but they give it anyway. I also Liked how she brought up the truck diver, I didn't even think to make that connection.
However, like Dr. Jerz said I'm not sure whether we can use a fictional story to prove anything, but this concept is also evident in the real world.

Andrew Adams said:

Steinbeck got his point across perfectly to you it seems. The big part of the book is that the rich are evil and machines are terrible things. This harsh picture he creates is definitely done to make you sympathize with the Okies, especially the Joad family, so it only makes sense that the rich would be absolute scum. However, I don't like how one sided it can be at times. I'm sure there were a couple of decent landowners out there and I'm sure there were quite a few Okies who were not nice at all. Obviously it would not be as great of a story if everyone was nice and loving, but I really do think it can sometimes be a little too close minded.

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Andrew Adams on Crime and Punishment?: Steinbeck got his point across
Julianne Banda on Crime and Punishment?: I agree! I like that you spott
Dennis G. Jerz on Crime and Punishment?: I like what you're doing here,
Alicia Campbell on Crime and Punishment?: You're absolutely right! This