In the sandwich that the tractor driver is eating on page 49 of "The Grapes of Wrath", why does Steinbeck include cheese?I have been able to ascertain a meaning for the other ingredients, but am...

In the sandwich that the tractor driver is eating on page 49 of "The Grapes of Wrath", why does Steinbeck include cheese?

I have been able to ascertain a meaning for the other ingredients, but am confused by this one. The only thing about cheese I have been able to find was that it became popular in Amerca in 1851, but that is after the novel was even published, so I do not know what else to say about it.

Expert Answers
ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One possibility can be seen in how cheese is usually used. Besides being eaten by humans, it can also be used as bait to set in mousetraps. The tractor driver seems ominous until Muley recognizes him as one of the local boys. When Muley asks why he is destroying his own people's home, the boy replies that he needs the money to support his own family. Cruelly, he tells Muley that he will take care of his own family first and whatever happens to others is "they're own affair." Thus the boy has been caught in a trap set by the large land owners and banks. They don't sent out their own people to destroy the homes of the sharecroppers. Instead, they hire local labor to do their dirty jobs. The tractor driver has taken their "cheese" at the expense of his neighbors and friends. He does not see that once his job of destroying his neighbor's homes is done, he also will probably lose his job and be among the other homeless, jobless people the banks and big businesses are preying on. The tractor driver has not yet learned the lesson of people working together to improve a problem. He is trapped into thinking he must simply provide for his own family first and not think about the others. Later, when he has time to think about what he has done, he may be wracked with guilt but the banks and large property owners will have fulfilled their objectives.

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The Grapes of Wrath

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