Just as Bishops’ often first person rather neutral confessional voice speaks to the reader to show links between migration and memory, then Hughes’ lyrical musicality exposed racial inequality from within America. John Steinbeck used his novel The Grapes of Wrath to reveal an uncomfortable reality of the mass migration of ordinary Americans as they too travelled to their perception of a better life from economic hardship. Comparisons can be made with the Afro-Americans gravitating into New York, with the Joad family travelling west from Oklahoma to California during the pre-war dust bowl years.

Steinbeck’s protest novel shares many neutral similarities with Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry they both speak realistically and relay underlying themes that include the struggle to find a sense of belonging.

‘And your immodest demands for a different world’ (line 9) in ‘Arrival at Santos’ relate to her questioning the demands for change when relocating from another place. She shows her mind in the process of perceiving a landscape and adjusting its views as it goes along the great journey ahead but also resonates back through the poem, reminding us that this has been a poem as much about the process of cognition.

Steinbeck’s Joad family had to constantly readjust and adapt to find their idea of a better life through travel ‘the mother road, the road of flight’ (Steinbeck, 1939, p.100). His reference to flight or travel is reminiscent of Bishop’s ‘Sandpiper’ and Sheers ‘Swallows’ but the symbolism that Route 66 carries show that it goes in two directions only, the Joads were aware that they could either go forward in search of opportunity and possible hardship, or have gone backward and returned to the poverty and familiarity they came from.

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The individual viewpoints used by all the writers and the characterisation they employ help to convey meaning while allowing us to form assumptions regarding the processes that occur within the lives of people. While avoiding both sentimental idealisation and negative stereotypes by recording faithfully the often minute details of life and its frustrations through neutral observation. Steinbeck also highlighted the plight of fellow Americans by using stark but often realistic descriptions that also showed the hardship of a forced migration by following physical movement across America ‘the dust hung like fog’ (P. 3) using the image of dust to show the reader the erosion of the lives of his characters through their experiences. Both Frost and Sheers are also skilled at representing a wide range of human experience in their poems. Both their voices use language to provide commentary about common themes such as the impact of the changes to rural life through to major themes within their poetry about growing old, family life and the passage of time ‘From my father a stammer’ (Sheers, 2005, p.3).

While understanding that Bishop’s sense of place helps us to visualise the object or location that she was writing about, it is through her adult reminiscence that she was aware of the need to make a choice about how her life was spent. By sheer determination to realise that change has to happen, either to complete a migratory journey like the Bear and the Swallows or to make a conscious life-changing journey in the search of a better or safer life just as many real-life Americans did. Both Hughes and Steinbeck so eloquently wrote about these experiences and from this, we are able to draw comparisons within our own lives and with the realisation of this be able to see that her experiences were vitally important to her. Through her work, it is possible to feel her traditional values that reveal her need for constant movement throughout her life, while sharing this vast experience with her readers.

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Racial Inequality In The Grapes Of Wrath. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/racial-inequality-in-the-grapes-of-wrath/

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