Grapes of Wrath: the Theme of Decay in Chapter 25 Essay

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One of the most pervasive themes in this passage is that of a spreading decay that is taking over the society. This is first expressed in quite a literal sense, as an actual decay of fruit and produce, which spreads like a virus across the American countryside and farming lands. Due to the economic mismanagement of the farming industry, fruit and other produce are left to rot and decay on the trees because they are not picked by the farmers. The text gives many examples of different fruits being left to decay on the farms. We see, for example, the cherries, that are described at first as “full and sweet”, being left to turn into seeds which “drop and dry with black shreds hanging from them”. The purple prunes, which now “carpet the …show more content…
The rotting fruit is also a symptom of an even greater social inequality, which puts the “great owners” in direct opposition with the “people”, the “little farmers”. The economic system in which the farming community has been forced to work has lead to this situation, resulting in rotting fruit and a spreading decay. It is because of the low prices set for fruit by the great owners and the banks that fruit is no longer profitable to be picked. The great owners can let prices drop on fruit because they make profit from also owning canneries, and thus have a growing monopoly on the fruit trade. Little farmers are increasingly edged out of the market, as they are unable to make any sort of profit from picking the fruit and selling it. The amount of money it would cost just to hire enough people to pick the fruit would be more than they would make from the subsequent selling of the picked fruit. Fruit must then be left to rot, and it is thus a symptom of the inequality that exists between the corporations and the independent farmers. Symbolically, however, the rotting fruit is also a representation in itself of the social inequality and discontent that is spreading. Society itself is succumbing to a decay that is spreading rapidly and