page 446 of 608 of The Grapes of Wrath

Well now I know what the title means … it’s even more depressing than what I thought.

The old adage of giving a man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish is only applicable if everyone has an equal fishing pole and equal access to the water. And that’s the real crime Steinbeck is trying to highlight : raw, unchecked capitalism has allowed the few to fence up and gate the waters and the land.