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Peirce and Royce and the Betrayal of Science: Scientific Fraud and Misconduct

From: The Pluralist
Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 2010
pp. 87-104 | 10.1353/plu.2010.0003

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4 / Caretaking, Domesticity, and Gender in John Steinbeck?s The Grapes of Wrath: ?His Home Is Not the Land? In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream. ?john steinbeck, the grapes of wrath (193) John Steinbeck is arguably the best-known proletarian author of the twentieth century. The 1962 Nobel laureate?s novels about the Depression era have remained a cultural touchstone for generations of readers, and the current economic downturn has renewed interest in his work among the general public. Television news pundits make frequent references to The Grapes of Wrath, his 1939 Pulitzer Prize?winning novel, when they discuss the current housing crisis and the families who suffer foreclo- sure, while a farm policy group argues that the ongoing Texas drought could herald the next Dust Bowl and headlines its materials with the question: ?The Grapes of Wrath . . . Part II?? (The Hand That Feeds U.S., n.d.). In 2009, Chris McGreal, writing for the United Kingdom?s Guard- ian newspaper, chronicled his journey across the United States re-creat- ing ?John Steinbeck?s famous fictional journey to reveal life in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? as part of a series titled ?The Grapes of Wrath Revisited: A Modern-Day Road Trip through John Steinbeck?s Fiction to Barack Obama?s Reality.? In 2011, BBC reporter Paul Mason also chose to re-create the Joads? journey for his article, ?In Steinbeck?s Footsteps: America?s Middle-Class Underclass.? Editorialists have frequently used comparisons to and quotations from The Grapes of Wrath when assessing corporate greed and labor exploitation, for example, when taking Amazon to task for terrible work conditions in its warehouses (Klein) or covering the Occupy Wall Street protests that have spread across the nation (Osborne). Revivals of the stage adaptation of the novel were scheduled in California, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, 88 / john steinbeck?s the grapes of wrath New Jersey, and New York throughout 2012, and Ellen Gibson reports in Business Week that Netflix rentals of the film adaption have been on the rise since 2008. It is worth noting that in the midst of these correlations between today?s economic crisis and the Depression-era struggles that prompted Steinbeck and other authors to write dark, angry, and moving portray- als of a broken social system, the vast majority of comparisons are to The Grapes of Wrath and not to Steinbeck?s other novels. It isn?t the only book he wrote about the Depression. Indeed, while the stage adaption for Of Mice and Men (1937) has enjoyed a revival in recent years, Steinbeck also wrote Tortilla Flat (1935), In Dubious Battle (1936), and Cannery Row (1945), about strikes, joblessness, economic struggle, and working- class misery. Yet none of these novels has entered the popular lexicon or captured the American imagination in defining representations of the working class to the degree of The Grapes of Wrath. One reason for the dominance of this particular novel, I argue, is its departure from the militant Marxism on display in ?typical? proletarian texts like In Dubious Battle. Instead, Steinbeck?s humanist philosophy emerges as he adapts portrayals of the working class with sentimentalism. Signaling an interest in the domestic with his rendering of male caregiving and domestic longing in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck effectively combines a stark proletarian critique of a wholesale, nationwide socioeconomic sys- tem with this domestic yearning in The Grapes of Wrath. By transform- ing the unforgiving American landscape into an intimate and familiar homescape, Steinbeck strikes a chord with his readers, engendering sympathy for the struggles of an Othered working class whose families reflect our own. By drawing the Joads as an ?Everyfamily,? Steinbeck crosses class boundaries to create sympathy for the working class and promotes a humanist argument for collective caretaking and survival. He is also able to push at the traditional definitions of the spaces?origi- nally defined by sentimentalism?in which caregiving occurs as well as of who is responsible for that care. Steinbeck grew up in Salinas, California...



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