In "The Grapes of Wrath", what is the difference between the hunter and being hunted?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Muley is talking to Tom and Casy outside of Tom's old home, they keep watching the lights of the deputy sheriff come closer. Muley says,"When you're huntin' somepin you're a hunter, an' you're strong. Can't nobody beat a hunter. But when you get hunted- that's different. Somepin happens to you. You ain't strong. I been a hunter for a long time. I ain't a hunter no more."
Muley is referring to the time before his eviction from his own farm, when he used to to be "a hunter". He was strong and brave. However, now that he has no home, he is scared and realizes he is powerless against the power structure that controls the land. Muley warns Tom that he also needs to be careful because Tom is just out of jail and on parole. The "hunter" is the power structure of banks and large landowners and the "hunted" are the small farmers and powerless who are at the mercy of the "hunters".

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The Grapes of Wrath

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