The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Contributed by Vernita Mires
Chapter 7

The car dealership owners look at their customers. They watch for weak and easily manipulated visitors, such as a woman who wants an expensive car and can push her husband to buy one. They attempt to make the customers feel obliged. Yet the true profits come from selling jalopies, not from selling new and dependable cars. There are no guarantees, only hidden costs and obvious flaws.


This chapter critiques yet another part of the business system. The owners of the car dealerships mean solely to exploit impoverished buyers. They do not profit from selling cars that will last, but rather from finding the most ill-used vehicle, giving it the appearance of reliability, and selling it off to desperate farmers who want to get to California. There is no compassion in the market for cars, just a perpetual cycle of exploitation. This chapter indicates what the Joad family must certainly have experienced to obtain a car before going west, yet places the family's experiences in a larger context.

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