Illustration of the back a man in a hat and overalls looking towards the farmland

The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck
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Why does Steinback include the car talk segment in chapter seven of "The Grapes of Wrath"?

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Chapter 7 is one of the intercalary chapters that Steinbeck put in the novel to give the reader a different perspective and to show the reader that this story didn't happen just to the fictional Joad family, but to all families in this situation.  Chapter 7 has a staccato style to it, a very fast-paced style. If read aloud, it sounds like a stereotypical used car salesman's fast talk.  The point of the chapter is to show how the tenant farmers were taken advantage of by people.  The tenant farmers, who are the ones who became the migrant people, were simple, naive folks. They didn't have experience dealing with less than scrupulous used car salesmen.  The migrant people were often sold junk but were told they were getting a good deal.  Not having any experience in this realm, they were easy prey for those wanting to take advantage.  Note that the chapter ends the way it begins, with that same rapid-fire delivery of the used car salesman.  In between there are phrases that the salesmen might have used to lure the unsuspecting migrants into making a bad choice.

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