Insight into the Past

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"Had he not been Fifty years old, and so one of the natural rulers of the family, Uncle John would have preferred not to sit in the honor place beside the driver. He would have liked Rose of Sharon to sit there. This was impossible, because she was young and a woman." The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Chapter 10.  Page 96.

I thought this excerpt to be quite interesting because it shows the insight into the times so well. Women were not equals to the men and these few short lines showed that quite well.  I always knew the life of a woman was very different back then compared to the way it is now, but I never thought of such things that are considered courtesy in our modern society. Rose of Sharon would get the front seat now days just because of being pregnant. I found it interesting to compare that to how the situation is actually handled in the book.

I also found it interesting that Steinbeck chose to have the character Uncle John actually feel that the situation was unfair. Even thought Uncle John took the passenger seat, it was not so much because he wanted to; it was because he was taught that that was the chain of command.

When the chain of command is broken, it throws the balance off. For example, later in the same chapter, the preacher decides to take over salting the meat to allow Ma to do other necessary tasks. Her response seemed to be of shock:

"She stopped her work then and inspected him oddly, as though he suggested a curious thing... 'It's women's work,' she said finally."

The preacher seemed to act more in a modern way as opposed to the time period and the portrayal of the balance between men and women.

I began to think after seeing these two portions of this book, could Steinbeck himself disagree with how women were put down himself?

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