Steinbeck communicates the helplessness that accompanies having to leave home
John Steinbeck's writing is strikingly simplistic and extremely affective. Something about his descriptive capabilities makes Grapes of Wrath
a very readable and picturesque text.
His passage about the possessions of the dispossessed gives the reader a very tangible grasp on what it must feel like to have to rid yourself of your belongings, "You're not buying only junk, you're buying junked lives. And more--you'll see--you're buying bitterness…. You're buying years of work, toil in the son; you're buying a sorrow that can't talk," (88-89).
The abandoned, now useless farming equipment serves as a reminder of the people who can no longer use these tools to sustain themselves or their families. The raw materials of these tools are not what's important anymore, nor is their monetary value, but what defines these tools is the hands and faces of the people who once relied on them as their means of sustenance, of their way of life.
Bitterness accompanies every horse that's sold at a rock bottom price. The reader gets a sense of the frustration of the farmer. The helplessness that accompanies having to sell the farm and pack up on the road becomes tangible. The bitterness must be justified, for these people have been betrayed by their land and their livelihood.
The impossibility of a new beginning looms dauntingly in front of the narrator, "We'll start over. But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me--why, we're all that's been," (89). The narrator is quite a jaded fellow, but, then again, who wouldn't be? His outlook is depressingly realistic, but for a man who's been farming his whole life, there's not much else he can hope to do.
"We'll start over," is a stab at optimism, he is trying to look at the glass half full. But the bleakness of the situation, "The anger of the moment," is entirely too overpowering (89). This scene, while dramatic, gives the reader a very clear idea of all these people are leaving behind and communicates the gravity of the situation. There is a context of permanence to their movement, "The rest? Leave it--or burn it up," (90). They have no hope of returning to their home but no hope in leaving their home. These displaced farmers leave their fields in the dismal mindset brought on by poverty and hunger, that things are bad and they're only going to get worse. They are confronted with the impossible task of forsaking the past.