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Gow Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Chapter 19 of the book The Grapes of Wrath presents historical background on the development of land ownership in California, and traces the American settlement of the land taken from the Mexicans. Fundamentally, the chapter explores the conflict between farming solely as a means of profit making and farming as a way of life. Throughout this chapter, Steinbeck uses a wide variety of persuasive techniques including parallelism, diction, and metaphors to convey his attitude about the plight of migrants migrating to California. This chapter is filled with parallelism. The Californians wonder “what if [the okies] won’t scare,” (236) and “what if they stand up” (236) and “shoot back” (236). Here, Steinbeck is pointing out the natives’ fears and hinting about the migrant’s bravery. He also makes a distinct contrast between the recently arrived Okies who believe that they “ain’t foreign” (233) and the Californians.

Perceiving themselves as coming from a similar background as the rest of the inhabitants of the Golden State, the Okies insist on similar rights; however, the natives believe that although the Okies “talk the same language” (236) they “ain’t the same” (236). This knowledge that they deserve the same decencies as any other American citizens gives strength and credence to their demands. Steinbeck makes the Okies appear more dangerous to the California natives and hints that they have the power and ambition to seize the land if they come together. Steinbeck uses diction to prove that the Okies are great people, and that they might be unstoppable if they come together. Steinbeck talks about a boy who dies from “black tongue” (239) as a result of “not gettin’ good things to eat” (239).

When the Okies learn that the boy’s “folks can’t bury him” (239) since they have to go to the “county stone orchard” (239) to do so, their “hands [go] into” their “pockets and little coins [come] out” Although, the Okies have barely got enough food to feed their own families, they will not hesitate to help a person in need. Steinbeck is trying to prove how these “people are good people”(239) and that they are “kind” (239) no matter how poor they are. In the end of this chapter, he talks about how they constantly pray to God that someday “kind people won’t all be poor” (239) and that someday “a kid can eat” ( 239). Steinbeck points out that “someday the praying would stop” and get answered.

In addition to parallelism and diction, he also uses metaphors in his writing. In this chapter he tries to show how desperate the Okies really are by comparing them to “ants” (233) that are “scurrying for work, for food,” (233) and most importantly “for land” (233). He also mentions why the natives are so terrified of the Okies. The natives are scared for their faith because they picture the Okies as armies. They fear the day that the Okies will march on their land “as the Lombards did in Italy” (236) or “as the Germans did on Gaul” (236) or as “Turks did on Byzantine” (236). By making these comparisons between these armies and the Okies, Steinbeck is trying to convey the migrants as powerful. All in all, Steinbeck uses Parallelism, diction, and metaphors to convey the migrants as powerful, caring, and desperate.


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