Social realism becomes the lens through which Steinbeck's work views consciousness in the world. A definition of the movement can help identify how The Grapes of Wrath meets this standard:
Social Realism... is an artistic movement expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic.
Steinbeck's work represents this standard. The depiction of the Joads' struggles and the other families who were displaced by the Dust Bowl and government policy that failed to take care of farmers is of vital importance to the work. At the same time, Steinbeck does not hesitate to point out the injustices done to the farmers, who operate as workers, and the need for social solidarity in times of socio- economic challenge. Both Casy's and Tom's actions in the name of the collective elements are vaulted in the work as heroic, and representative of how individual need to act in transforming of what is into what should be. In this light, the work is highly representative of social realism.