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In The Grapes of Wrath, does the second half of this chapter (Chapter 11) prove or...

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AnnD1 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 31, 2013 at 11:41 PM via web

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In The Grapes of Wrath, does the second half of this chapter (Chapter 11) prove or disprove the claims of the first half of the chapter?  Explain.

 

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 4, 2013 at 2:51 PM (Answer #1)

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The first half of the chapter offers an argument rendered in what we might call "visually oriented" langauge. The second half of the chapter continues with the visually oriented, image-based writing style but does not present an argument. 

The writing style is very similar from one half to the next, but the presence of an argument in the first half suggests that it belongs to a slightly different mode of writing. This is argumentation/polemic where the second half of the chapter is best described as expressive and atmospheric. 

The argument being made in the first half of the chapter is not contradicted by the second half. If we extrapolate the argument, we see that the point is that the land is connected to the men and the men are connected to the land in a process of identity (or identification). They are fused, joined, unified, etc. This argument hearkens back to the primary polemic of the novel's first half:

The migrants’ agrarian way of life has all but disappeared, threatened not only by nature’s drought and dust storms, but also by big farms and financial establishments, called “the Bank.” (eNotes)

When the men who care for the land are replaced by men who do not care for it, the land changes. We can see some of these changes in the second half of the chapter. The homes are abandoned. Decay sets in. There is life there, but not human life. There are weeds but no crops. 

We can say that there are two related points being made here, which are made repeatedly in the narrative and non-narrative portions of the novel: 1) farmers were once defined by the land in profound meta-physical ways and 2) the land has a different meaning depending on who occupies it and how. 

The industrial farmer is not the same as the individual farmer:

"When the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land." 

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