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America has been called the melting pot of the world; this mixture of cultures and people has created a unique blend known only to America. The American people have themselves adapted this blend of cultures into something particular to certain areas of the country; two examples of this are the traditions of the slave states along the Mississippi River as are told by Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the destruction of an old way of life for farmers and their quest for a new life as the result of the Dust Bowl Migration of the 1930 s, which is depicted in John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath. These two specific subcultures have similarities, which reflect the uniqueness of the area. Sometimes the wisdom and gentleness that are the result of how a person was brought up are found in unlikely places. The slave Jim shows amazing perception and kindness when he prevents Huckleberry Finn from seeing that the dead body they had found was none other than Huck's pap. While Jim knew that there was no love lost between Huck and his father, Jim knew that seeing your own father dead was something that would affect anyone.
Perhaps he felt that Huck would fee guilty, but no matter what the reason, it was a very kind and wise thing to do. In Grapes of Wrath, Ma Joad is a veritable wellspring of wisdom: Man, he lives in jerks baby born an a man dies, an thats a jerk gets a farm an loses his farm, an thats a jerk. Woman, its all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We aint gonna die out. People is goin on changin a little, maybe, but goin right on. (pg 423 Grapes of Wrath) In a single, impressive monologue Ma reassures her family that their world and life wont end, it will simply change a little, but she also informs her audience of how she knows this, which is more than many people would be able to do.
Mas conviction that life will go on, and the way she views life seem to stem from the way a farm wife lives: constantly watching over ones family, everything one does revolving around the needs and wants of the family, watching for signs of something that could break the family's spirit. There is a gentleness and compassion that has no comparison when a woman like Rosasharn Joad, nearly overcome with grief for her lost baby, can offer the life she holds to save a dying man. Most people would not be able to pull themselves together after losing a baby to save someone they knew, let alone a complete stranger. Not only does doing so show gentleness and compassion, but it shows strength and courage as well. Sometimes wisdom and compassion come from unexpected sources, but they should always be heeded and accepted. When people are striving to survive, life is often broken down into the basics of one step at a time, putting one foot down in front of the other.
When their way of life ends as they are forced off the land their family had tenanted for generations, the Joad family begins a journey full of bitter hopelessness as they struggle to find a new life, a journey full of questions that remain unanswered: Some all these here folks an everbodyspose they cant get no jobs out there? Howd I know? Im jus puttin one foot in front a the other. (pg 173 Grapes of Wrath) The question and answer, of a sorts, clue the reader into the general feeling of the people whod been forced off their land, a totally understandable uncertainty, a feeling of having lost direction and purpose; having been uprooted, no wonder questions are asked, but they have the right idea; when a persons been completely uprooted, simply survive until a new sense of purpose has been found. The first beginnings of that purpose were starting to stir when temporary communities were begun: Every night a world created Then leaders emerged, then laws were made, then codes came into being The families learned what rights must be observed (pg 194 Grapes of Wrath) These worlds demonstrate the will to survive and the knowledge that there is strength in numbers. The laws and codes represent the will to use that strength, and the acknowledgement of rights demonstrates what the oppressors were missing: that while some people are not as privileged, all have rights that must not be trampled on. Change comes when questions are raised and convictions challenged.
Farm-women had the conviction that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole, (pg 4 Grapes of Wrath) that was challenged when the forced dissertation of the farms nearly broke the menfolks spirits. Because this conviction was held by both the women and the children, if the men broke, so did the rest of the family. The most common question in the days of the Dust Bowl Migration, which is still the most common question, has always been so, and always will be, is Why? Why is the world changing? This is a question asked when any old tradition is dropped or a new one developed. It is a question asked when two people differ.
Its a question that will probably never have a real answer. When people and events bring change, they often bring change to areas of life where change was least expected and least wanted. Pride and greed were the downfall of many farming families from all over the nation. In Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck demonstrates this by depicting how large corporations controlled by a few people forced small farmers of the they had been on for generations; this resulted in the mass migration to California in search of jobs. This takeover demonstrates how the people of America regarded each other: like so many insects to be used and exploited, then squashed, with no thought to how the insects might feel about it.
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Research essay sample on Grapes Of Wrath Huckleberry Finn