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The Grapes of Wrath

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Laura Clift

on 16 January 2013

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Transcript of The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath Novel Analysis Character Analysis Literary Criticism Summary Group Criticism Amanda Cearley
Robert Randolph
Laura Clift Recommendation
Based on the data collected from the survey, I would recommend the book if you were interested in the time period in which The Grapes of Wrath takes place. According to three graphs, the book was easy to read but it didn’t have a clear beginning or ending. The reader learns a lot about the differences of social classes, the culture of the time, and of the lives of the people trying to escape the Dust Bowl to California. Although the story follows one family, it is also a mixture of all the families in that situation. It is heavy with symbolism, detailed descriptions, and a brutally honest portrayal of the people. Five out of six people said that it helped them understand more about the specific time period of the novel. If you’d like to know more about this time in American history, I would recommend The Grapes of Wrath. I chose 'I Should Care' by Nat King Cole to represent Steinbeck’s reaction to his critics because he was basically indifferent. He surely appreciated the good responses and wanted his book to be interesting and have an impact one the public. However, when it came to critics picking apart and inspecting the morality of his book, he simply didn’t care. Steinbeck stated in A Letter on Criticism to “Just read it, don’t count it!” Choice of Music Rebecca Hinton
Hinton analyzes the aspects of a family as a unit in her study of The Grapes of Wrath. The transition of many families who moved from being farmers in Oklahoma to nomad laborers in California was a drastic change. She states that as the book progresses, the Joad family cannot simply stay as one unit but their family must expand to include members related by situation as well as blood. The Joad’s fellow migrants also show this trait of sympathy and generosity. To survive, the travelers as a group have to work together and fight for each other as a family.
The gradual change of roles in the family is also discussed by Hinton. Before their journey, the father is the head of the house and makes all of the important decisions. As the story progresses, however, the mother takes leadership. Hinton concludes that Steinbeck’s intentions were to show that the migrants could only survive if they worked together, took the lead when needed, and treated everyone as a part of their family. Richard Henry
Richard Henry’s “Overview of The Grapes of Wrath”, after a brief section on the author’s past novels and explanation of the book compares the book to both past and present. He states that the book is divided into three sections, the Joads getting ready to leave their home, their journey away from the Dust Bowl, and finally their new lives in California. Henry declares in many the great Dust Bowl Migration mirrors the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan in the Old Testament. The Dust Bowl’s drought matches Egypt’s plagues, and both in turn caused many thousands of people to take a journey to a “promised land.”
He also believes the novel is still relevant in present times due to the distinct separation of classes. It also compares through the victimization of other races and nationalities. He’s saying that The Grapes of Wrath is timeless, even if its characters are firmly rooted in the setting of the 1930’s. However, the novel’s basic themes can relate to people in the past present and future. Howard Levant

Howard Levant’s “The Novels of John Steinbeck: A Critical Study” mainly discusses the uses of characterization within The Grapes of Wrath. He states that the Joads are individualized either by events or through them. The least important Joads are given specific traits that are parts of events. Such as Grandpa’s strength that ends when he leaves his home and Grandma’s burial that goes against her strong religious views. However, the main characters that the story centers around are defined by the events that occur. Such as Tom becoming the moral conscience of the family throughout their journey.
Levant goes on to compare the Joad’s characters with four types of Okie personalities. They are the stubborn, the dead, the weak, and the backtrackers. He states that Muley Graves is stubborn because he just won’t leave Oklahoma, and since everyone else had left, the loneliness drove him wild. Levant says that the grandparents and unborn child of Rose of Sharon as he deaths that frame the novel. The weak are Noah and Connie because they both left the family for very different reasons, but with the same intentions of not returning. The backtrackers are some of the people they met on the road who stopped for sickness and death, contrasting the Joad’s strength as a family to move on in the face of tragedy. Christopher Isherwood

Isherwood compares the Dust Bowl Migration to all of the other migrations and disappointing “promised lands” in history. He’s basically calling it a cycle, one of which readers can see a small part of in The Grapes of Wrath. He briefly moves through the story of the Joads, focusing on the hardships, deaths, and desertions. Although, Isherwood states that the story doesn’t end at the last page of the book. He says that the story will keep going as long as such misery is still on this earth.
Isherwood calls Steinbeck a “master of realistic writing.” However, he believes that in the story, Steinbeck is voicing his opinion too loudly and is not giving the reader a chance to form their own impressions. He says that this is something that scars the novel, despite the great story. Isherwood classifies The Grapes of Wrath as a “milestone in American fiction”, but he doesn’t think it shows the entire author’s potential. Malcolm Cowley

Cowley praises the first half of the novel, saying that it had been “sorrowful, bitter, [and] intensely moving.” However, the second half wasn’t as remarkable. It seems that after their journey to California was over, their confusion as to California’s lack of work causes the story to downfall from there. He liked it better when they were strong and had a plan, but when their hopes were dashed the whole novel suffered.
Despite this, Cowley says that readers will forget the problems in the story. What stays with you is the raw sympathy Steinbeck shows towards the migrants. Not pity or love, because that would imply he put himself above them or glazed over their faults. He calls it one of the “great angry novels” that inspire people to fight against the wrongdoing in the world. Warren French
Among other works by John Steinbeck, French discusses The Grapes of Wrath. He shortly summarizes the story, but mainly focuses on the characters growth throughout the novel. He says that compared to other books by Steinbeck, the characters of The Grapes of Wrath have changed from victims to strong people who can work together and figure out their problems.
Another interesting topic French covers is the controversial ending. He states that the Joads had only found temporary safety, but no long term security. Their story wasn’t over, and that’s the same with the national tragedy. It could not simply be written by the author, but solved by the readers. Thesis The Grapes of Wrath was analyzed by many different people through the study of it's specific characterizations, its relationship to the past, and also the author's voice throughout the book. In the beginning, Tom Joad has been released from prison and is currently on parle. He was sent to prison for manslaughter after he killed someone with a shovel in self-defense. Tom is trying to get home via a combination of walking and hitchhiking. Along the way, he learns from friends he runs into as to what is happening. The banks are foreclosing, and the large, commercial farms are taking over. His family farm has been repossessed, and he quickly gets to his grandparents’ farm where his family packing up to head to California. The family begins their journey to California with high hopes of success. However, the journey is no “walk in the park.” Their used car is not built for the stresses they put it through along the way. They meet another family with whom they decide to travel. Both families have some car troubles, Tom’s “Granma” and “Grampa” die, and migrants returning from California who warn of the poor conditions there. The family slowly begins splitting up as a few members walk off and never return. In California, the conditions are worse than the migrants described. People are living in “Hoovervilles,” small areas with dense populations of immigrants living in tents and cars. There are no jobs, and there is no money. People are forced to scavenge for their food. The family, like all of the others, is struggling to stay together, and they have no money. Tom is forced to run away. What is left of the family is forced to start over fresh in the strange, brutal new place in which they live. Themes TimelineWorks Cited"Google Images." Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2013. <http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=mi>.Homer. The Odyssey. Unknown: Unknown, 0. Print."The Grapes of Wrath: Biography: John Steinbeck Study Guide| Novelguide." Free Study Guides, free study guide, free book notes, free literature notes. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2013. <http://www.novelguide.com/TheGrapesofWrath/biography.html>."The Grapes of Wrath: THEMES / MAJOR THEMES / MINOR THEMES / JOHN STEINBECK BIOGRAPHY." TheBestNotes.com - Free Study Guide Book Notes Online Literature Summaries Booknotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2013. <http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Grapes_Of_Wrath_Steinbeck/The_Grapes_Of_Wrath_Study_Guide04.html>.Visser, Nicholas. "Audience and Closure in The Grapes of Wrath." Gale Cengage Learning: Literature Resource Center. Version 22.1. Cengage Learning, 28 Mar. 1994. Web. 14 Jan. 2013. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=tel_k_carterhs&tabID=T001&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=6&contentSet=GALE%7C>.http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=tel_k_carterhs&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=4&contentSet=GALE%7CCX1592100014&&docId=GALE|CX1592100014&docType=GALEhttp://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=tel_k_centralhs&tabID=T003&searchId=R2&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=2&contentSet=GALE%7CCX2592000017&&docId=GALE|CX2592000017&docType=GALE#Criticismhttp://ic.galegroup.com/ic/suic/CriticalEssayDetailsPage/CriticalEssayDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=SUIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Critical-Essay&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=true&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ2101207657http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/suic/CriticalEssayDetailsPage/CriticalEssayDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=SUIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Critical-Essay&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=true&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ2111200456http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=tel_k_carterhs&tabID=T001&searchId=R5&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=37&contentSet=GALE%7CA20560635&&docId=GALE|A20560635&docType=GALE&role=LitRChttp://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=tel_k_carterhs&tabID=T001&searchId=R4&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=29&contentSet=GALE|H1420050956&&docId=GALE|H1420050956&docType=GALE&role=LitRC http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=tel_k_carterhs&tabID=T001&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=6&contentSet=GALE%7CH1100019824&&docId=GALE|H1100019824&docType=GALE&role=LitRC-- The public’s thoughts towards The Grapes of Wrath were unusual yet prejudice. According to the novel and research, the family was considered Okies which made the public judge the theme of the book. The dialogue in this time period brought out the difference in the certain dominant groups of people. An example of their dialogue was a line in the novel, “Well, Okie use’ ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you’re a dumb son-of-a-*****. Okie means you’re scum. Don’t mean nothing itself, it’s the way they say it.” The judgment on the country folk brought out negativity within people’s views. A man, Engels, made this statement come true by his comment of what he thought of the novel and called it a, “Socialist tendentious novel.” Even from the diverse views, the book has been banned, and burned. On the other hand the novel has been translated into nearly every language, and approximately 100,000 copies continue to be sold every year. From this statistic, it obviously did not stop the public from keeping the novel being sold. Different people, different views. Works Cited Timeline A man with a strict, skeptical attitude from Oklahoma that is released from prison finds himself wanting to visit his family when he is released. As the journey from Oklahoma to California with his family to live a better life, he realizes that he is still living in the past of his prison days. Although he is a pretty stubborn man he still tries to find his purpose in himself. Tom Joad She is the foundation of the whole family. Her brave, assertive character is what supports the family to keep their sanity. Throughout the novel she sees the purpose of life and that is the strength you gain within yourself that makes you who you are. Ma Joad Pa Joad He is considered the leader of the family. Throughout the novel his resentment in life is controlled by Ma’s leadership by her faith and not only later on Ma takes the authority. He keeps all the burdens and bitterness for the clan but also he has the biggest loving heart of the Joad’s. Jim Casey A former preacher that holds the biggest love for the Joad family. His influence on Tom impacted his life to a selfless one. He takes the blame for Tom’s actions so many times in the novel and is also killed for his do-gooding personality. He shows the family his aboundant compassion for them by his courageous actions. Rose of Sharon Joad The teen daughter of the Joad family that is married and pregnant. Though she has been a sheltered teenager, she matures in changing roles from pregnancy to a sheltered nieve teenager to what her mother is, a matriarch. The noble act at the end of the book signifies her mature woman being as she saves a life and furthermore her kindheartedness towards others. Secondary Focus The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, is similar to The Odyssey, by Homer in several ways. Though there are not really any parallels and the plots don’t coincide neatly, these two works are similar in a few aspects. The Joad family would be Odysseus and his crew. Both groups are working towards a common goal with high hopes. Both groups face many obstacles on the way there. The Joad family’s journey could, in fact, be referred to as an odyssey. The Grapes of Wrath also shares themes with a popular movie from 2000, O Brother Where Art Though. This movie is based solely, and in full, on The Odyssey. This correlation, though indirect, is clear and highly coincidental.
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