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 sevestronger, 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 turtle it

is another example of the big powerful guy trying to flatten or kill the

little guy. Everything the turtle encounters trys its best to stop the

turtle from making its westerly journey. Steadily the turtle advances

on, ironically to the southwest, the direction of the mirgration of

people. The turtle is described as being lasting, ancient, old and

wise: horny head, yellowed toenails, indestructible high dome of a

shell, humorous old eyes. (Chp 1)The driver of the truckow is described

as being unmovable and never bending to the wind or dust. The Joad

family does not want to move, they prefer to stay on the land they grew

up on, much the same as the willow does. The willow contributes to the

theme by showing the unwillingness of the people to be removed from

their land by the banks. The latter represents the force making them

leave their homes. Both of these symbols help contribute to the theme by

showing a struggle between each other. The tree struggles against

nature in much the same way that the Joad family struggles against the

Bank and large companies.

The rains that comes at the end of the novel symbolize several things.

Rain in which is excessive, in a certain way fulfills a cycle of the

dust which is also excessive. In a way nature has restored a balance

and has initiated a new growth cycle. This ties in with other examples

of the rebirth idea in the ending, much in the way the Joad family will

grow again. The rain contributes to the theme by showing the cycle of

nature that give a conclusion to the novel by showing that life is a

pattern of birth and death. The rain is another example of nature

against man, the rain comes and floods the living quarters of the Joads.

The Joads try to stop the flood of their home by yet again are forced

back when nature drops a tree causing a flood of water to ruin their

home forcing them to move. In opposite way rain can helpful to give