Literary Paper of The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
Steinbeck wrote many wonderful books but a great classic is one titled The
Grapes of Wrath. This is a story of a family called the Joads, and a tale of a
courageous family who sought security and family unity.


In my paper I will examine the different ways the Joads tried to keep
united whether just within their immediate family or eventually with all the
others who shared the same struggles and sufferings.

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Steinbeck’s dialogue and description’s of the dusty roads, the men
squatting in the dirt drawing pictures while making major decisions, the way in
which they traveled all puts you right into the middle of the family. One
becomes aware and wants to be a part of there unity and their long for security.

Steinbeck’s use of the characters dialect is astoundingly excellent and
unmistakenly realistic of the Joad’s culture. Without this dialogue, it would
not be as intense and vivid.


J. Homer Caskey, in “Letters to the Editor” says,
“Steinbeck’s knowledge of the forces which hold
a family together and the forces which cause it
to disintegrate. He understands that family
councils are an important part of the lives of
the Joads.”
The major theme is the struggle and survival of the Joad family from the
time they lost their home, to the unity they felt and soon were a part of a
whole community, one big family, and one big soul. This theme is particularly
exemplified by Ma Joad, who played a major part.


The Joads encountered a constant struggle to keep the family going and
intact. When Ma knew that gramma Joad was dying she told her that there was
nothing she could do, that the family needed to get across the desert that night.

It was not until they were across the desert that she let the family know that
Gramma Joad had died during the night.


Ma Joad was the strong but yet understanding one of the family. She
listened to pa and obeyed his wishes, until she had to be strong and stand her
ground. Ma was convinced and had to be forceful with pa and show him that she
was capable of making decisions. After this confrontation with pa the other
family members began to see ma differently and looked to her for the final
approval.


John Steinbeck, in “The Grapes of Wrath” says,
“On’y way you gonna get me to go is whup me…

Ma Joad takes on Pa in order to keep the
family from going off too far.”
Tom Joad represented the man of the family and provided support through his
strength. I believe that Tom Joad kept the family in line. As they went on
with their trails, the fact that he had been in prison kept the whole family
from doing anything that might incriminate or send him back. They held their
tongues at times when they encountered prejudice and degrading comments from
people.


Tom’s role in the story was that of one to look up to, and even though he
spent time in prison he still held on to the big brother figure.


Gary at first seemed to be a loner, although once he was made to be a part
of the family, he began to look within himself and to the meaning of life. He
seemed to find a new direction in life.


John Steinbeck, in “The Grapes of Wrath” says,
“I ain’t gonna baptize. I’m gonna work i the
fiel’s, in the green fiel’s, an I’m gonna be
near to folks. I ain’s gonna try to teach ’em
nothin, I’m gonna try to lear. Gonna learn why
the folks walks in the grass, gonna hear ’em
talk, gonna hear ’em sing. Gonna listen to kids
eatin mush. Gonna hear husban an wife a-poundin’
the mattress in the night. Gonna eat with ’em an
learn.” Gonna lay in the grass, open an’ honest
with anybody that’ll have me. Gonna cuss an’ swear
an’ hear the peotry of folks talkin. All that’s
holy, all that’s what I didn understan. All them
things is the good things.”
Rose of Sharon had her dreams and did nothing but wonder about what her
dreams would bring. She wanted Connie to study at night and work at the ice
store. She wanted the best for her with her baby. She constantly dreamed of
them in their nice little house all alone as a family. Rose of Sharon only
thought of herself, her baby and her dreams. She gave no interest to the family,
contributed nothing but the burden of her dreams and selfishness. Until she
experienced the self fulfilling pleasure of helping someone else and realized
that sometimes helping someone else can be more rewarding.


It is said that this story is fiction, an invention of the human mind, but
to a great degree it is true. The lives of so many people were tractored off
the land. Survival forced them to accept their fate and to battle for the
survival of the family unit.


James N. Vaughan, in “The Commonweal” says,
“The story of the disastrous move to the west
is a story of death, desertion and hunger. It
is the story of ….of whose existence has been
destroyed for reasons of which they had but the
dimmest understanding.”
In conclusion, as the Joads continued their struggle for survival, they
became a living and challenging part of the forgotten American dream. “There is
a sense that man can survive in nature if he is, in turn, himself natural.”
ENDNOTES
J. Homer Caskey, “The Saturday Review, Letters to
the Editor,” Ohio University, (May 1939): Vol. XX
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, (New York, NY
1992) p. 230,
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, (New York, NY
1992) pp. 127-128
James N. Vaughan, “The Commonweal,” (July 1939)
Vol. XXX, 10c No. 14
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath,
New York, NY 1992
Caskey, Homer J. “The Saturday Review, Letters to
the Editor,” Ohio University (May 1939)
Vaughan, James N. “The Commonweal,” (July 1939)

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