illustrated portrait of American author John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

Start Free Trial

How does John Steinbeck evoke empathy in "The Harvest Gypsies"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Harvest Gypsies, John Steinbeck evokes empathy primarily in two ways. He provides detail about the camps and the situations in which people live, which emphasizes the idea that the residents are real people. He also relates personal experiences that the readers are likely to have had, emphasizing the shared worker-reader bonds.

Details about the camps appear throughout. One effective use of such detail, in Article III, covers the housing that the large ranches provide. Steinbeck tells us that the houses rent from $3 – $15 monthly, then asks us to look at them, leading us in with his phrasing: “Let us see what this housing is like….” He then offers two short paragraphs, which include information about what the housing does not provide: “no rug, no water, no bed,” and again, “no heated water….” He then points out that such a house could be cramped because the parents and up to six children would all have to live in the house’s single room. By evoking one aspect of the overall situation, the inadequate housing, Steinbeck makes concrete an experience many readers would not have.

One example of the precise human dimensions appears in Article II. Steinbeck presents a story about a family that lost a small child. Here, in contrast, he appeals to many readers’ common experience. Anyone who ever endured the death of a young family member could relate to their pain and understand how hard it would be for the parents to keep working.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial