Another method by which authors convey their message is through the use of literary elements. These ideas are familiar
to most readers and are often used to explain an authors style of writing. It is using these concepts that Steinbeck writes
in a manner that leaves readers with the proper impression.
Tone: One example of Steinbeck’s use of tone is on page 206. Here he describes the transition of the Okies from "I"
to "we," or in other words the beginning of a revolution. He writes, "One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty
car creakin along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and I am bewildered.
And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. Keep these two squatting
men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here
"I lost my land' is changed; a cell is split from its splitting grows the thing you hate--"We lost our land." The danger is
here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first 'we' there grows a still more dangerous thing:
"I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on
its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting
in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening
with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket.
It's wool. It was my mother's blanket--take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning--from "I" to
"we." (206). While quite long, this excerpt gives the full impression of the frantic, aggressive, even violent tone of this
piece. Steinbeck uses short, abrupt sentences such as "I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and I am
bewildered," and "The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket--take
it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb," to leave this impression, which in its excited state is appropriate for the scene
of a revolution. This notion is further reinforced using phrases like "This is the thing to bomb." It could be argued that
the short, relative simplicity of these sentences makes them all the more powerful. It is in this way that Steinbeck develops
such a provocative, frantic, and volatile tone. This makes the coming revolution seem all the more powerful and ominous.
Pathos: Pathos is a moment designed to inspire a sincere but heartfelt expression of emotion. It is powerful, but not inappropriately
so. Steinbeck uses this to further enforce the need for cooperation among a desperate people. He does so by describing the
tragedy of a mother unable to feed her children because capitalism prevents her family from making money (planters use a surplus
of workers to drive down wages). She is saved by the Weedpatch community, which allows her to use communal funds to buy food.
As she leaves, another woman, Annie Littlefield then tells her story of how her family is stripped of their pride for only
a meal. It was the brutality of this situation, where the Okies has no alternative, that Steinbeck uses to inspire emotion
in readers. He wrote, "An’ it was a-rainin’ fierce. Fella tol’ us to go to the Salvation Army. We was hungry-
they made us crawl for our dinner. They took our dignity. They-I hate ‘em… I ain’t never seen my man beat
before, but them-them Salvation Army done it to ‘im." (432). By recounting the hopeless situation of the destitute Okies,
Steinbeck inspires readers to sympathize with them, that they must resort to communal living to survive. This is an example
of pathos, using a reader’s emotions to gain their support for a cause.
Diction: The essence of diction is to choose the most appropriate word for a situation that both fits logically and serves
the purpose of conveying the intended message. This is evident in Steinbeck’s describing the cat at the company store
as being "tortoise-shell," (514). The use of this word reminds the reader of the previously discussed phalanx concept, especially
when considered in the context of the transaction; because Ma could not afford to buy sugar the store clerk, though he himself
was quite poor, bought it for her with his own dime (514). It is through this cooperation that Steinbeck thought that the
desperate Okies could succeed and that is why he used this opportunity to remind the reader of the phalanx structure. That
was his reason for describing the cat as "tortoise-shell" rather than brown or black or any other more common adjective; to
remind the reader of the tortoise and therefore the phalanx. By selecting this adjective, Steinbeck exercised diction.
Image: One element of literature often utilized by authors is the practice of conjuring an image in a readers head in order
to inspire an emotion, therefore swinging the readers opinion towards one side or another. Steinbeck did this in depicting
the slaying of Jim Casy. By depicting Casy as martyr, Steinbeck gains sympathy for Okies’ cause. By making the slaying
so brutal, this effect is further augmented. The image of Casy’s head being smashed is a powerful, visual image. Steinbeck
describes it as follows, "They heavy man swung with the pick handle. Casy dodged down into the swing. The heavy club crashed
into the side of his head with a dull crunch of bone, and Casy fell sideways out of the light." (527). This image is designed
by Steinbeck to horrify readers and make them realize the full scope of brutality the Okies were treated with.