In Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, identify what holds significance in chapter 12.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Within chapter 12, Steinbeck's detailing of the perseverance of the migrant farmer is evident.  There is a resiliency and strength that the migrant farmer displays in chapter 12.  While there are many forces that seek to challenge them in terms of natural harshness and the harshness of human beings, Steinbeck draws a picture that shows their strength and resolute nature.  This becomes the significance of chapter 12.  For Steinbeck, the profiteering that takes place along the roadside is a part of their lives.  The migrants faced price gouging and had no recourse to address it.  Yet, they did not waver in their commitment to moving to California with its hope and promise of a better life for themselves and their families.  

Walking and enduring long distances is a part of their struggle. Steinbeck writes of this ability to endure and struggle as representative of  the idea that “strange things happen . . . some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that faith is refired forever.” The notion of bitterness being set alongside beautiful is where Steinbeck's portrait in Chapter 12 acquires meaning and relevance. It is to this end in which Steinbeck draws out a picture of what it means to be human, capable of witnessing and even perpetrating "bitterly cruel" realities along side that which can be considered "beautiful."  This portrait of the human condition as embodied in the migrant farmer becomes a significant element from chapter 12.

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The Grapes of Wrath

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