Comparison Between The Grapes of Wrath and Fifth Business

People who feel trapped often do desperate things that affect themselves and others. ‘Fifth Business’; and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’; are two novels that both consist of trapped characters that are affected physically, emotionally, and socially. These elements are the very foundation of entrapment, which lead to the downfall of the characters. Mary from the novel ‘Fifth Business’; and Grampa from ‘The Grapes of Wrath’; are two characters that have a fatal flaw in their lives and characteristics that lead to their destruction. Mary and Grampa are the two characters that can be portrayed as being physically trapped.

Mary is physically trapped by her own actions. When she meets a tramp in the gravel pit, she allows him to make love to her. This event causes her husband Amasa to resign from his job as a Baptist Minister due to shame and disgrace. After this happening Amasa keeps her tied in a harness so she cannot get out of the house. Mary’s actions affect and ruin her family life. Later in the story it is mentioned that she is in a small hospital behind bars and often under sedation due to her abusive behavior towards Dunstan Ramsay.

Dunstan is the one who has cared most for her during her life; however, she considers him her worst enemy for keeping her son away from her. Her physical entrapment due to her behavior and actions, eventually lead to her death. Grampa is also physically trapped, because of his old age. His inability to move around freely has an impact on his lifestyle. Grampa is always trapped in his household and in the vehicle the family is travelling in to get to California. When he does not wish to travel, he is drugged and is forced to go on the journey.

Now the entrapment can be seen in the truck; he is physically unable to do anything and ultimately dies. He is not able to go anywhere and is restricted to visit places due to his old age. Emotional entrapment is one of the major factors in the destruction of the characters. Mary is emotionally trapped in the past. Even years after her son ran away, she still feels that he is a little boy. Her emotional condition ultimately drives her insane. Her insanity changes her thoughts and ideas. This can be seen when she blames Dunstan for keeping her son away from her.

Her insanity contributes to her emotional entrapment. Grampa, on the other hand, is also emotionally trapped. He has dreams of what California is going to be like, and thinks he is going to spend his days eating grapes and living a good life. But on the day that they are set to leave, he says ‘I ain’t a goin’-This here’s my country. I b’long here. ‘; This quote explains the emotional attachment Grampa has with his land. However, once he is uprooted from the land of his ancestors, Grampa is unable to survive and dies.

His emotional attachment leads to his downfall. Social entrapment is also the cause of destruction for Mary and Grampa. Mary’s life is ruined after the tramp incident. Local people make fun of her by calling her a ‘hoor’;. Her reputation is destroyed and with that her social life also diminishes. Due to her bad reputation she is unable to interact with the people in the community. Later in the story she is isolated, by the death of her husband and the loss of her nine year old son Paul, who runs away to join the circus.

This causes her to become insane, and the town also reacts to her insanity in a harsh manner by not helping or talking to her. Her isolation and her terrible reputation force her to be entrapped socially. Grampa is also trapped socially, because of his surroundings. He lived during The Great Economic Depression, which itself explains the situation. During those days, it was very difficult for many people to socialize with others, because of The Depression. Without any money, it is not easy to survive; furthermore, no money is wasted for social activities and purposes.

This is the case with Grampa. During The Depression there was no money to spend on social activities; therefore the time of The Depression provoked him to be trapped socially. His old age also accounts for his social entrapment. Since he is unable to move freely, he is restrained from any sort of social functions. Grampa’s inability to cope with his new surroundings is another factor. Since he cannot adapt to his new surroundings, he is unable to interact with the people, and therefore cannot socialize.

Entrapment in any way leads to destruction. Mary’s bad reputation, her actions, and her insanity are all examples that lead to her death. Grampa’s old age, his physical disabilities, and his inability to cope with his new surroundings are the reasons for his entrapment. Mary and Grampa face physical, emotional, and social entrapment, which proceeds to their downfall. Therefore, no matter what the reason is, all the physical, emotional, and social entrapments lead to the downfall of a person.

Leave a Comment