In The Grapes of Wrath, what are the two contrasting characteristics of mankind illustrated in this chapter (Chapter 12)?  Explain.    

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A number of characteristics are put on display in this chapter. Two of them which offer a direct contrast are the human qualities of greed and compassion/generosity. 

Much of the chapter is taken up by discussions of the hardships of travel and the poverty of those on the road. Here again, as in many of the interstitial chapters of the novel, the greed and chiseling of the roadside purveyors is put on display. A man wants to over-charge for a damaged tire, etc.

The chapter ends on another note, relating a brief story about a family that is tractored off their land. They have no car so they pile their possessions on to a home-made trailer and pull the trailer to the road. Someone comes in a car and picks them up and pulls the family and the trailer to California, feeding them along the way.

Ending with this comment, the chapter clearly demonstrates the variety of experiences people have on the road:

"The people in flight from the terror behind - strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever."  

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The Grapes of Wrath

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