Critical Analysis of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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The Grapes of Wrath was written using any information in order to capture the life of the people that lived back in the day of the great depression. Steinbeck was a man that wanted to show the people the way that others lived, and also why America was not the way that we dream it is. The people of the 1900s had the so-called “American dream” which gave them hope, passion, and perseverance. People showed hope because they always believe that all people are trying to help others reach the dream and that people will try not to hurt people while doing trying. They express passion with everything that they do meaning that they do their jobs with joy and to the fullest even if they have the lowest job that made the least money they still work hard to support their family. Perseverance is the best word that can be used to describe the 1900’s because that century is the century that people think of when they think back in American history. Wifes, husbands, kids, grandpa, grandma, rich, or poor the perseverance was in all of them, they all wanted to go as far or more than they can in order to improve their life. In The Grapes Of Wrath Steinbeck shows the perseverance of the American people through Steinbeck used historical facts, relationship,and Religion.

John Steinbeck unlike most of the author of this time didn’t write about an event that related a lot to his life but more of what he saw and what he reshared. The research that he collected was used in his novel to make it more believable to the reader. Steinbeck portrays the acute suffering of people by paying close attention to small details and bringing them to the attention of the reader.If he did not, indicate what you believe his intentions were in writing about such a dark and difficult period in American history. “The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the gray country.'' (Steinbeck 14). The dust bowl was used in the book to portray the historical timeline and the adversity that causes the Joad family and the other Okies to move towards California to escape the bowl. The novel was also set during one of the most economically devastating times in the history of the world and especially the United States is known as “The Great Depression”.

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'We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's grampa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the debt. And then--them people. They done somepin to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me—all of us. An' in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean. It made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed.” ( Steinbeck 277).

The Great Depression was very impactful to the creation of the book and also the main reason why the Joad family had to borrow money causing the bank to come and confiscate their land. Some experts have researched the migration patterns used in around that time to travel to California. “Steinbeck conducted extensive research for his novel, visiting migrant camps and utilizing resources that could strengthen his account of migrant life, including FSA photographs. These photographs enhanced Steinbeck's understanding of the migrant situation and helped him craft a convincing narrative.”(Pillen). All the ways that John used historic markers in order to create a more realistic and accurate novel to make it feel like he lived that life instead of research.

Due to the fact that John Steinbeck didn’t write the story about his life and his travels he was still able to use great emotional connection so that the reader can to feel for the main character.

And then all of a sudden, the family began to function. Pa got up and a lighted another lantern. Noah from a box in the kitchen, brought out the bow-bladed butchering knife and whetted it on a worn little carborundum stone. And he laid the scraper on the chopping block, and the knife beside it. Pa brought two sturdy sticks, each three feet long, and pointed the ends with the ax, and he tied strong ropes, double half-hitched, to the middle of the sticks. (Steinbeck 114).

Steinbeck talks a lot about how a family that is getting ready to pack their stuff on the car so that they can get ready to leave all they have behind in order to go to the dreamland. When Steinbeck also uses the family to connect to the reader he also uses there life in order to express is emotional stance towards the great depression by showing the effect that it brings to poor farmers. “It's mine. I built it. You bump it down -- I'll be in the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I'll pot you like a rabbit.”( Steinbeck 49). The poor don’t know what to do about losing their land because they didn’t know anything but to find who to shoot, how can you shoot something that can not die. “How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it. They sat and looked at it and burned it into their memories. How'll it be not to know what land's outside the door? How if you wake up in the night and know -- and know the willow tree's not there? Can you live without the willow tree? Well, no, you can't. The willow tree is you.”( Steinbeck 114).

When the family is leaving Oklahoma to go to California they burn all that they have because they don’t have enough space to take it with them. The family is leaving their old lives to go start a new life when they don’t know anything about the new land which brings the American dream to the reader of that time and to readers right now.

When you write a book back in the 1900’s most of the authors tend to put their religious views into their works. John Steinbeck put Reverend Casey a preacher who stopped believing in God in his novel The Grapes Of Wrath to portray his view on religion.

“I ain't preachin' no more much. The sperit ain't in the people much no more; and worse'n that, the sperit ain't in me no more. 'Course now an' again the sperit gets movin' an' I rip out a meetin', or when folks sets out food, I give 'em a grace, but my heart ain't in it. I on'y do it 'cause they expect it.”( Steinbeck 16). Casey talks to Joad about how people don’t really praise god anymore and that he finds no motive to praise god except when its time to eat. John Steinbeck was not a religious man but he still believed in god to the point where it's not excessive, he also makes jokes about how religion is sometimes a not the answer to all the questions in the world.

“I says, ‘Maybe it ain't a sin. Maybe it's just the way folks is. Maybe we been whippin’ the hell out of ourselves for nothin’.’…Before I knowed it, I was sayin’ out loud, ‘The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say.”( Steinbeck 72). This quote is the way that John Steinbeck feels about religion and how him and he feels other people feel on religion.

The shifts between the Old and New testaments coalesce with Jim Casy, whose ideas about humanity and a new social gospel parallel Christ's new religion two thousand years ago. Biblical myths also inform the final scene through a collection of symbols that demonstrate the existence of a new order in the Joads' world. As the Joads seek refuge from the flood in a dry barn, the narrative offers symbols of the Old Testament deluge (Noah's ark), the New Testament stable where Christ was born (the barn), and the mysterious rite of Communion as Rose of Sharon gives life to the starving man.( Theme and construction).

The representation that the author of this article talked about was that John Steinbeck even when he writes he always relates to the bible when most of the readers don’t know where it's from.

The novel shows all the ways that John Steinbeck portrayed himself in this work, he tries to represent the bad part of the American dream and the fact that not everyone that follows the American dream gets the happy ending that they deserve. The American people even if they have no way of knowing that they are going to succeed will always push forward because they have perseverance built in their system and that's what Steinbeck was writing about.

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Critical Analysis of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
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