The Grapes of Wrath is a well known book that talks of the hardships of the Joad family and their experiences migrating to California and looking for jobs. According to Keith Windschuttle, Steinbeck is historically inaccurate in many of the topics he wrote in the book. But, while this book is about the Great Depression and the Okies, the novel is still fictional.
Steinbeck for the most part portrays an overall general idea of some of the history behind the book, but the facts he uses are wrong. This isn’t surprising because the novel is fictional so not every event and fact is bound to be true in the novel, and by writing the novel like he did, he makes an impact on readers and tries to inspire change. Stretching the truth draws in more readers and makes them feel more strongly about the cause he’s trying to help. Steinbeck had visit migrant camps before writing the novel so he does, to some extent, see what life is like for the Okies and he probably does use that experience in the novel. The book isn’t a history book, it’s not a perfect representation of the life of the Okies but to some extent, it does show one of the perspectives of the journey to the “promise land”. While Windschuttle claims many Okies weren’t farmers, some of them still were and while The Grapes of Wrath might not portray the life of the majority, some of the farmers might have faced similar problems as the Joads did. Steinbeck didn’t stretched the truth to tell history incorrectly but rather to get his point across, and since the book is fiction, people should realize that the not everything is the book will the completely accurate.
Windshuttle also comments that Steinbeck portrays a proletariat revolution over the Great Depression even though the book supposively portrays the Great Depression. Even if the events and facts are exaggerate or made up, a proletariat revolution occurring during this time isn’t shocking and could’ve actually happened during the time period. He is just taking the knowledge that he knows of the things around him and molding them into a story that could possibly happen. While not everything is right, they have a possibility of being right. It’s known that when countries are in economic struggles, they are more susceptible to communism and a proletariat revolt could happen considering the working conditions of the farmers in the story, even if it is an exaggeration.
To me, it seems expected that not everything is historically correct as he changed conditions to support his argument that migrants are suffering due to owners and something has to be done about it. Like Windshuttle said, Steinbeck is a New Deal supporter so while he wrote the book to gain attention to the struggles of the migrant Okies, he could’ve also wanted to gain support for the New Deal as it shows change, that something could be done to help the people. Weedpatch was a government camp that the New Deal formed, and from the contrasts with the Okievilles, Steinbeck shows approval towards the government camps. So in order to push is stance forward to the reader, he had to exaggerate but that’s expected as readers should know that The Grapes of Wrath isn’t a true story and if the Joads are made up, other things probably would be too.