“The most unfortunate of people is the one for whom there was no work in the world.”
Infinitely long federal highway No. 66. It stretches across Oklahoma, Kansas to California itself – the southern happy land where wonderful peaches, apples and other exotic fruits grow on fertile land, where there is work for everyone where rich and happy people live. On this road rides the six-cylinder passenger car “Hudson” Jodov, converted to a truck for long journeys. The head of the family sits in the cab next to one of the sons, who in turn drive the car. In the back of the body, among the most necessary, which can not be dispensed with on a long trip, home-made baggage on bags, knots and second-hand chairs are the rest of the family: mother, grandmother,
Where are they going? What are they looking for?
Behind them was a poor, but seemingly normal life in their home on their land. True, this land was no longer its own: for taxes, loans and exorbitant interest, which could not be fully repaid in time, the land had to be pawned into a bank that gradually became the full owner of the land. And the Joudas turned into tenants. And the hour has come when the Bank drove the tenants from their land, because it is more profitable to cultivate the land with tractors and hired workers.
And thousands of families, like the Joudames, withdrew from their seats and set off in an unknown direction in search of a new life. They say that in California there is work and housing. And now, on federal highway No. 66, not one thousand cars of former farmers who have left their seats roll. Where? They think that ahead of them there is work. They dream to work together with the whole family and soon will buy a small house among the blooming gardens, give the younger children to school, arrange the life of the daughter and her child who is about to be born. They hope that in time they will be able to buy land and open up their
As you can see, the Jowdy and similar to them are not particularly interested in anything in life. Their aspirations are simple and unpretentious: to cultivate the land and live the fruits of their hands. But the fact is that the American way of life deprives them of this seemingly uncontested right to live and work on their own piece of land.
The road to Californian paradise was a tragedy for the Jodi family. They were forced to tear themselves away from their native land. For them, it was not only the place of everyday hard work, but also the embodiment of good and justice in the world. Their love for nature, earth, air and sun, gifts of nature is a natural feeling of a working man who perceives the earth as a living organism, for which the earth bestows his harvest.
On the way, Jouda save every penny, every gallon of water and gasoline. Every day it becomes more difficult to feed. With every hour their hope to find a job and to find a permanent roof over their heads melts. Meeting with the same as they, expelled from their homes on the high road “seekers of happiness,” the Judeans are increasingly convinced of the futility of their hopes.
The husband of her daughter, the young man who dreamed of a beautiful and rich life in the city, can not stand the difficulties first. Behind him is the crazy and kind Noah, broken by the hardships of the journey: he leaves the family to merge with nature, with the river that, as Noah seems, is calling him. She could not survive the break with her home grandma: she died on the border of two states, when it seemed to be a stone’s throw to the desired California. The daughter of Rosa is more and more aware that she will not be able to bear and give birth to a healthy child. Her birth began at the most critical moment in the life of their family, when the water during the heavy rain began to flood their trailer, which temporarily served as their home. She had a dead child, and life for her lost all meaning.
He could not become the mainstay of the family father. The further their journey continued, the more confused he became, not seeing the opportunity to find work and support a large family. Once they were happy when they arrived at the camp for the migrants. Here, for some time, they were able to live in more or less human conditions, with their own labor to pay for their stay in the camp. Here, father and eldest son Tom found a job for a few days with a respectable and honest farmer. But he was soon forced to refuse them in his work, as the big landowners of the state, who joined the Farmers’ Association, dictated to all their terms of payment for hired workers and thus drove into the corner not only small farmers like Joudam in the past but also medium – what was their employer.
The support of the family in her hard wanderings was the mother and eldest son Tom. A mother who has supported peace and tranquility in her family all her life, and now tries to encourage her daughter in a word, to convince her husband not to despair, to justify the ill-considered actions of the average son, to reassure Tom. She alone cares about younger children, about their souls, trying in these cruel conditions to teach them to remain people and share the last piece of bread with the hungry. The mother advises her adult children: “If you have a grief, I firmly know one thing: go to the poor, they will help.” Seeing that the family is dying, she is still convinced that ordinary people and their traditions are immortal, they are the fundamental principle of life. She says: “We will not be destroyed from the face of the earth, you will not destroy it, we will exist forever, because we are the people.”
The eldest son Tom, whose consciousness began to wake up as a result of conversations with the spontaneous preacher of Casey and the injustice that he witnessed repeatedly on the way, is the first to fully understand what is happening, the true state of affairs. And he takes responsibility for the fate of the family. Seeing that not only his family, but thousands of such families were in a desperate situation, Tom, thanks to Casey and some thinking people like him, comes to the idea of uniting the efforts of all the poor: “The hungry will rise to fight for a piece of bread, I’ll be with them. ” He does not reconcile himself with humiliations and insults and conflicts with the police, defending the truth. Because of this, he is forced to hide, to leave his relatives. He realized that only the solidarity of thousands of poor people, who had been torn from people’s homes, could endure a fight with banks and sheriffs, rich farmers and trusts, detachments of armed shopkeepers and hired assassins. Only a joint struggle can awaken the indifference of the US state apparatus and reflect on the destinies of the poor.
The tragedy of these simple American citizens, thrown out of society by the life, appeared before us in J. Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”. The fate of the Jowd family, which fell apart because of the unbearably cruel circumstances, is tragic and leaves little hope for the possibility of happiness for a person who desires to earn a living by himself and his family with honest labor. And in the minds of ordinary people begins to “wander furious,” in their hearts ripen “cluster of anger.” The Jowd family, as in a drop of water, reflected the specific features of the national consciousness and the fundamental social contradictions and problems of American reality in the 1930s. I think that they have not lost their relevance to America, and for our country of the period of “wild capitalism” they are becoming only a trend of development.