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Observations on The Grapes of Wrath Essay

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Observations on The Grapes of Wrath  

 

As you approach your home, you realize the empty barn and the crooked house sagging close to the barren ground. A closer view unveils an empty, dried up well, an emaciated cat limping past the caved in porch, a tree with "leaves tattered and scraggly as a molting chicken" (23), a stack of rotting untouched lumber and cracked, jagged window panes reflecting the desolate land abroad. This description portrays the Joad family's home suffering from abandonment when they leave their country home life for better opportunities in the west. Steinbeck portrays the plight of the migrant Joad family from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life during the Great Depression in The Grapes of Wrath.

 

As the strong-headed, independent and protagonistic Tom Joad heads toward the country to finally reunite with his family after serving four years in prison, he meets the preaching character, Jim Casy (ironically having the same initials as Jesus Christ). They both unfortunately observe how the horrific effects of a dust bowl during the depression impact the average hard working family. The Joad family prepares for the difficult journey across the country to the "promised" land where ignorance leads the Joad family to search for the American dream in the long lost land of California. Problems transpire contiguously as Grama and Grampa Joad die, their vehicle breaks down, money becomes a non-existant necessity, Tom gets into trouble after killing Casy's murderer, and the sickly, whiny daughter, Rose of Sharon, gives birth to a dead baby because of malnutrition. Grama and Grampa Joad cannot endure the difficult journey in the beginning, hence, at their old age, rot away ...


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...s "disciple" by representing Jim when he killed his murderer. His belief in transcendentalism (holiness and divinity of every man) is expressed through Jim Casy because Casy represents all good that Steinbeck wishes will exist in mankind, preaching and trying to solve problems. If Steinbeck could change society, he would make people more like Jim Casy.

The main antagonist in the novel is the government; obviously, the Joad family doesn't overcome this obstacle, but somehow learn to live with the difficulties transposed upon them. As a result, Steinbeck does not see an immediate answer to the problems that the government and rich people put upon the ordinary man, or the ending to his novel would present somewhat of a solution rather than a settlement. He hopes to educate and persuade the reader about the evils of "some rich bastard" (48) and the "damn govamen" (63).


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