Humans and machinery have one major difference that sets them apart: emotions. Machines don’t feel emotions the way humans do , or have characteristics like humans. In chapter 5 of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath, Steinbeck is portraying a land owner giving the bad news to a tenant farmer that he is being kicked off his land, who does not take it lightly. Throughout the chapter , Steinbeck is depicting the idea that machinery is void of all human characteristics and emotions.
As humans becomes less powerful in the time period of Steinbecks novel , machinery is taking over their jobs. “The tenant system won’t work anymore. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop .” (Steinbeck 33) Technology affects everything more and more as the decades pass. With the progressing technological advantages , farming equipment has become cheaper and more easily attainable. Hiring one man for a job twenty people used to do, leaves the unemployment rate to skyrocket. The only thing affected by this was the people. As long as the bank got the money to continue to run it didn’t care whose home or land it took. “…..a bank or a company can’t do that, because those creatures don’t breathe air, don’t eat side-meat.
They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money.” (Steinbeck 32) The bank is technology that was created by man , but not controlled by man any longer. Banks thrive on money because it’s the only way they stay in control. Just like tenant farmers eat meat and breathe , banks expand and live on interest money and profits of companies. As a machine , banks don’t have any emotional connection with humans which make the reader not have a personal connection like they would with a character. When Steinbeck continuously refers to the bank as “the monster” in the chapter, he sets up the readers mind to automatically disconnect and refrain from forming a liking to the machinery in the chapter.
The human race has learned to control emotions and feelings throughout the decades of life. Machinery and technology are new advances society has yet to control oneself around. After the news came to the tenant farmer that his family would be kicked off their farm, the man who now took place of all the old farming families came to plow with his tractor. He was an old farmer of the land , who now was receiving three dollars a day to plow with the tractor. The man has no emotion toward his neighbors , he only spoke the words that he needed to feed his kids. When the man was given the opportunity to get pulled out of the failing farming market , he jumped at the chance. He had no control over what would be a better decision for his ex-fellow tenant farmers, for he would be plowing over their homes soon.
The machinery got the farmer by the throat and tricked him into thinking he would be better off . Society often gets sucked into this fake world of technologies and machinery where we believe it’s all real and almost like a human life , but it’s not. “We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightening or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.” (Steinbeck 38) Men created the machinery that is potentially ruining the lives of hundreds of farmers, but the machinery is no longer run by men. Men lost control when the technologies became too powerful and society demanded more out of the creators. Machinery has no soul , or heart like a man does but it can still take control of people and situations due to the pure strength of it. Not like a natural disaster , machinery that men created take a lot more fight to take down.
The machinery and technological advances of society had a way to take over and ruin the lives of humans. Devoid of all emotion and characteristics relating to humans , machinery affected many jobs, and lives of families in the decade depicted in Steinbeck’s novel .
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking, 1939. Print.
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Topic: Machinery vs. Human Characteristics in Grapes of Wrath
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