The author understands an awful lot about human nature, especially how emotions change from one to another with no reason other than time. Another thing he understands is how people will only put up with so much before they try to change things. People do not like being pushed around, and will only take it for so long, after that, they will do what they can to change their situation
The people who lived in California change the way they feel about the immigrants over time. First they pity, then they hate them, and after a while they fear them (Steinbeck 356). Eventually people get tired of feeling pity, because it is a sad and depressing emotion. Furthermore, if something pitiful is around long enough and a person continues to do nothing, then they get angry at themselves for not doing the right thing. That person turns that anger on the pitiful thing because it is easier to hate someone else for not helping themselves than to do the right thing and help, even if that person is unable to help themselves.
Another thing the author realizes about human nature is that people will only take a beating for so long. It says at one part “the fear went from their faces, and anger took its place” (Steinbeck 357). Eventually, people will do anything to get themselves free of what they feel is holding them down. The men get angry about what is going on, and emotion always leads to action of some kind, even if it is just resolving to do something.
Because the Californians understand that people will not put up with starvation forever, they begin to fear the immigrants (Steinbeck 356). They know that after a while, resolving to try harder to find work or try to steal something small will not be enough. They know that eventually the Okies will try something bigger and more drastic. People often fear change, so the Californians feared the Okies.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.