Discuss connections between The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most immediate connections I can forge between both works is the depiction of capitalism as predatory and brutal to the lives of individuals trapped under its heel.  The predicaments of Jurgis and the Joads are two situations where the downside of capitalism are revealed in a brutal manner.  Both Jurgis and the Joads recognize how painful consciousness is when one is treated as a means to an end as opposed to an end in its own right.  I think that this becomes a central connection between both works.  The examination of how human beings can be used as grist for the capitalist machine is something that both works illuminate.  I would also suggest that another connection between both works is how resistance and defiance is evoked.  Both works are not merely content with displaying their respective protagonists as victims.  Rather, they find ways to endure and eventually persevere through the pain and frustration of lives fraught with abuses of capitalism.  Jurgis embrace Socialism and becomes an advocate for a radical change in how the means of production are both owned and how reality is constructed.  The hope of the Joad family, and in particular of Ma's belief to keep the family together, while extending her care for others, reflects how solidarity and social cohesiveness can be a response to the harsh and isolating elements of poverty.  It is here where I think that both works depict how life is, but also provide a transformational element into what being in the world can be.  In this, resistance and dissent are both conditions in which individuals can embrace worlds of what can be as opposed to what is.

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