America the victim; suffering from the violent scourge of man. A dream born of a benign freedom, a political empowerment designed to allow men to be what they want to be, mutated into justifiable individualism and moral immunity. That freedom hasn’t died, man simply mutilated it. The freedom of honesty and humanity unfortunately bleeds the freedom of legal cunning and fiscal treachery.
What we once doted on as the idealistic beacon of political sanctuary – the idea that man can be whatever he makes of himself – disintegrated into economic efficacy – the idea that man can be whatever money makes him.
Steinbeck’s story, figuratively formed around Shakespeare’s line from Richard III, begins each part in a third-person narrative before handing the stage over to Ethan Allen Hawley’s perspective. It depicts that disintegration of the American ideal – her citizens manipulate and drown the essence of America’s character for the shallow and material allowances of her grace. Rather than focusing on the freedom of brotherly love, certain citizens focus on the freedom of monetary ambition because everyone’s doing it and no one can say they can’t.
The act of enabling a drunk soul-mate justifiably blends into the new American moral mantra when someone can profit by it. The act of propagating the legal deportation of a savvy businessman, who shares every economic ambition of the native-born glutton, cleanses itself of hypocrisy because of the protective ethics of American capitalism. The young representation of the coming generation forgoes his ethical upbringing at the lure of an easy buck. Of course, why work harder than you have to for your money? What difference does it make? None – says the man who defines himself according to the price tag hanging from the shelf he jumped on.
Signal the stock exchange! Suddenly and carelessly, we have sanctioned the profitable merger of Might and Right. It’s all Good Business!
And in that Place, forlorn of material “happiness” and impregnated by fortune-telling prophecies, no justification will survive. No talisman will lie. No safety net awaits the inevitable fall from humanity. No ear will bend at the imploring screams of regret – except your own. And the Place knows you were already aware of all this.