Similarities Between The Grapes Of Wrath And Civil Disobedience

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The Government Portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath versus “Civil Disobedience” As time has gone by, civilizations have developed along with their governments. The government plays a central role in the formation of a society and how it functions. As portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, and “Civil Disobedience,” by Henry David Thoreau, the government is the enemy who works against its people and hinders their ability to achieve more as a society. Though Steinbeck displays the government as evil, his ideas about it differ from those of Thoreau. However, both authors do have similar beliefs regarding the role citizens play to help keep the government in check. Steinbeck’s and Thoreau’s opinions of centralized authority primarily …show more content…

Steinbeck implies, in The Grapes of Wrath, that the government is needed to help keep order within a society. The formation of centralized authority is inevitable as illustrated by the migrant families. As they moved westward, small communities formed with rules, “[then] leaders emerged, then laws were made, then codes came into being” (Steinbeck 131). This is the standard, gradual formation of any government. They form from needing stability and order within a community. When the government failed the migrant workers, they created their own government as displayed in the camps. Steinbeck believed that the migrants developed their own sense of authority in order to have guidance in spite of their tragic predicament. Contrastingly, Thoreau does not believe that governments are needed in order for organization and order to prosper. He wants a better government which will eventually lead to no government when people are prepared for it. There is not a dire need for a government since the “law never made men a whit more just,” and overall, people of the government are simply “agents of injustice”(Thoreau 2). In many cases, the law provides more injustice than good, and this is carried out by government officials. For example, a man without property will get more time in prison for refusing to pay the State than a person who steals a …show more content…

For Thoreau, the individual should take action against societal problems instead of relying on the government to change them. Although it is not people’s responsibility to completely change the way society runs, they need to make their opinions known in order for change to happen. If they do not agree with an idea, they cannot just vote by “a strip of paper merely, but [their] whole influence” (Thoreau 7). People must actively work to enact change. Voting through a strip of paper will not do anything since the government will continue doing what they choose unless they are met with resistance. Rebellion interferes with their progress. On the other hand, Steinbeck views the role of the government as helpful to the people. As the migrant workers moved towards the west, the development of authority and laws made the communities “more complete and better furnished, for their builders were more experienced in building them” (Steinbeck 131). Builders refers to the leaders who surfaced creating more organization among these groups. With authority and rules, migrants felt security and stability which was needed in their situation. Their world was better since they had leaders who created a better environment for them. The creation of a temporary government allowed people to become better at dealing with the uncertainties of their journey “and a kind of insurance developed in these nights” (Steinbeck

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