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The Grapes of Wrath
Transcript of The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck included several chapters that did not carry on the story of the Joad family, but instead provided additional information and commentary on the condition of the working people at the time.
The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family as the migrate from Oklahoma to California in search of work during the Great Depression after being kicked from their home. When they reach California, the Joad's realize that the promises of plentiful work and opportunity were merely lies meant to increase the labor force and lower the wages. They also realize that they and their fellow "Okies" are not welcome in California, and face the threat of corrupt law enforcement and angry locals.
The Great Depression
Began in 1929 and ended in 1939, Grapes of Wrath was written and is set in the late 1930s
Widespread poverty and economic instability, not only in the U.S. but in much of the rest of the industrialized world as well.
Led to large migration of people westward in search of work. (History.com)
Steinbeck's purpose is to represent the struggles of the working class, particularly during the Great Depression
He chose to write about events that were very current, but he offers a very thoughtful and reflective prospective, and connects the current struggle to more universal themes
"And the great owners... know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away" (Steinbeck 238).
Steinbeck relied heavily on his own experiences living in California during the Depression.
Ma and Pa
Keeps the family moving through hardship
Illustrates the strength of the human spirit, and of the working people.
"Ma is the psychological and moral center of the family; Pa carries its burdens" (Levant 92).
Shows normal people struggling against the challenges Steinbeck is discussing
A man who used to be a preacher, but no longer considers himself one because "The sperit ain't in the people much no more; and worse'n that, the sperit ain't in me no more" (Steinbeck 20).
Shows the movement away from religion in much of society.
The Great Depression "was a catastrophe that upset the values of, and in many cases, the very existence of Americans. Within only a few years of its onset in fall 1929, Protestantism felt the full weight of the Depression. Budgets were slashed, membership decreased, ministers were dismissed, and churches were closed." (Encyclopedia.com)
Rose of Sharon and Connie
Illustrate the unattainable nature of the American Dream
Connie plans to take correspondence classes and get a good job so he can buy a house in town for his new family, but in the end he leaves the pregnant Rose of Sharon, whose pregnancy ends with a miscarriage.
"Rose of Sharon's baby, born dead at the end of the novel, is an index of the family's ordeal" (Levant 93).
The Grapes of Wrath
The Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl was a period of drought and intense dust storms in the American and Canadian prairies that occurred in the 1930s. (Dunn)
Caused by over-working the land
Oklahoma was hit especially hard
The Grapes of Wrath
, John Steinbeck draws heavily on the current events of his time such as the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to achieve his purpose of representing the struggles of the impoverished working class.
1. Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
2. Dunn, Trey. "The 1930s Dust Bowl." Trinity.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2016.
3. History.com . "The Great Depression." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 11 May 2016.
4. Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam Research, n.d. Web. 10 May 2016.
5. Levant, Howard. "The Fully Matured Art: The Grapes of Wrath." John Steinbeck. By Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. N. pag. Print.
Truck Image http://www.caglecartoons.com/media/cartoons/53/2011/07/14/95491_600.jpg
Grapes Image http://pngimg.com/upload/grape_PNG2961.png
Descriptions of a turtle struggling to travel along a road
"And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it" (Steinbeck 15).
"Nobody can't keep a turtle though. They work at it and work at it, and at last one day they get out and away they go - off somewheres" (Steinbeck 21)
The Turtle represents the migrant worker, though they are oppressed in many ways (the truck driver), they keep working and through strength and determination survive
Struggle of the Working People
Many of the intercalary chapters discuss the various challenges facing the migrant working people
"Both in the interchapters and the narrative, the universal immediate issue is survival - a concrete universal"(Levant 92).
Steinbeck's use of the currrent events of his time provide realism and truth to his writing, which help him powerfully achieve his purpose of illustrating the struggle of the working people. His ability to look so reflectively at current events and connect his story to universal themes also contributes strongly to his purpose.