Empathy is defined as having the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
In the book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus strives to encourage Scout to understand other
people, rather than make fun of them. Scout is told by Atticus that in order to truly understand
another person you must “climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This idea appears in many
genres and is known as empathy. In the three selections, “The Harvest Gypsies” by John
Steinbeck, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, and “Statement on the Assassination of Martin
Luther King, Jr.” by Robert F. Kennedy, empathy is evoked in an audience to inspire action and
bring about a deeper understanding of the world. Although these stories all provided an
understanding of empathy, “The Harvest Gypsies” presents it the best for the reason that the
author compares and contrasts two families, uses emotion to convince readers to feel a certain
way, and does not make his opinion on the issue clear.
First off, in “The Harvest Gypsies,” readers are able to understand the wretched living
conditions of families who lived in camps without proper sanitation. The article states the
struggles that migrant workers had to go through daily. The author, John Steinbeck, only
provides information about two families; a middle class and lower class family. This allows an
opportunity for comparing and contrasting them. Upton Sinclair in “The Jungle,” displays the
dreary living conditions in factories and the awfulness of the industries. The horrendous
circumstances in the Stockyard caused the workers to be treated inhumanely. Although Upton
Sinclair in “The Jungle” makes the conditions of the factories and the industries clear, John
Steinbeck in “The Harvest Gypsies” includes information about two different families, and the
reader is able to compare their similarities and differences. This convinces the reader to feel a
greater amount of empathy in the article because they connect more with the story and its
message. In paragraph 1 the author states that in the middle-class family's tent, “There is one bed
in the family and that is a big tick lying on the ground inside the tent.” In paragraph 16 the
author also states that the lower class family "... has found a big piece of old carpet. It is on the
ground. To go to bed the members of the family lie on the ground and fold the carpet up over
them." With this information, the reader is able to identify how similar these two families are.
The middle-class family at the very least have a tick to sleep on and can avoid sleeping on the
dirty cold ground, unlike the lower class family. As shown above, Upton Sinclair does not
provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the conditions of the industries, which blocks the
reader from receiving a greater understanding of empathy.
Second of all, In “The Harvest Gypsies,” John Steinbeck uses emotion to convince
readers to feel a certain way on the subject. In paragraph 7 the author states the...