The characters in both novels, those who are both poor and homeless yet not hopeless, were treated with great sympathy and respect by Steinbeck. These were his portrayals of those in American life who live on the fringe of society--powerless, exploited, and unacknowledged. In them, however, Steinbeck found courage, compassion, endurance, selflessness, and dignity. The dramatic--and some would say shocking--conclusion of each of these novels speaks to these qualities. Steinbeck's homeless are humble people of humble means, but they embody the best aspects of the human spirit.