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The Agrarian VisionSustainability and Environmental Ethics$
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Paul B. Thompson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125879

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125879.001.0001

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The Moral Significance of Land

The Moral Significance of Land

A Lesson from The Grapes of Wrath

(p.87) Chapter 4 The Moral Significance of Land
The Agrarian Vision

Paul B. Thompson

University Press of Kentucky

The Grapes of Wrath is widely accepted as a literary classic, but it is also criticized as offering a romanticized portrait of the American working-class people it depicts. Depression-era egalitarians were perhaps more likely to insist on the equal distribution of wealth than are contemporary liberals. Yet the idea that a just society tends to equalize life chances by providing the poor with skills, knowledge, and health—which are the basis of opportunity—has endured. The most obvious philosophical reading of The Grapes of Wrath is as an extended case study in social injustice, with the Joads gradually acquiring the class-consciousness that places them in solidarity with wageworkers.

Keywords:   Grapes of Wrath, egalitarians, injustice, solidarity, wageworkers

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