The Grapes Of Wrath Study Guide

This essay has a total of 1110 words and 11 pages.

The Grapes Of Wrath


The Grapes of Wrath is a novel by

John Steinbeck that exposes the desperate conditions under

which the migratory farm families of America during the

1930's live under. The novel tells of one families migration

west to California through the great economic depression of

the 1930's. The Joad family had to abandon their home and

their livelihoods. They had to uproot and set adrift because

tractors were rapidly industrializing their farms. The bank

took possession of their land because the owners could not

pay off their loan. The novel shows how the Joad family

deals with moving to California. How they survive the cruelty

of the land owners that take advantage of them, their

poverty and willingness to work. The Grapes of Wrath

combines Steinbeck adoration of the land, his simple hatred

of corruption resulting from materialism (money) and his

abiding faith in the common people to overcome the hostile

environment. The novel opens with a retaining picture of

nature on rampage. The novel shows the men and women

that are unbroken by nature. The theme is one of man verses

a hostile environment. His body destroyed but his spirit is

not broken. The method used to develop the theme of the

novel is through the use of symbolism. There are several

uses of symbols in the novel from the turtle at the beginning

to the rain at the end. As each symbol is presented through

the novel they show examples of the good and the bad

things that exist within the novel. The opening chapter paints

a vivid picture of the situation facing the drought-stricken

farmers of Oklahoma. Dust is described a covering

everything, smothering the life out of anything that wants to

grow. The dust is symbolic of the erosion of the lives of the

people. The dust is synonymous with "deadness". The land is

ruined ^way of life (farming) gone, people ^uprooted and

forced to leave. Secondly, the dust stands for ^profiteering

banks in the background that squeeze the life out the land by

forcing the people off the land. The soil, the people (farmers)

have been drained of life and are exploited: The last rain fell

on the red and gray country of Oklahoma in early May. The

weeds became a dark green to protect themselves from the

sun's unyielding rays....The wind grew stronger, uprooting

the weakened corn, and the air became so filled with dust

that the stars were not visible at night. (Chp 1) As the

chapter continues a turtle, which appears and reappears

several times early in the novel, can be seen to stand for

survival, a driving life force in all of mankind that cannot be

beaten by nature or man. The turtle represents a hope that

the trip to the west is survivable by the farmer migrants

(Joad family). The turtle further represents the migrants

struggles against nature/man by overcoming every obstacle

he encounters: the red ant in his path, the truck driver who

tries to run over him, being captured in Tom Joad's jacket:

And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the

driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it. The driver of the

truck works for a large company, who try to stop the

migrants from going west, when the driver attempts to hit the

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