The Grapes of Wrath Analysis
Review Paper: The Grapes of Wrath Analysis
The Grapes of Wrath: Introduction
In American literature, not many books reflect the great sorrows of the labor force. Americans usually deny looking at workers' struggles to stay alive because the United States is the place where people's dreams come true. However, most of the time, this is not accurate, and people suffer under capitalism's tough conditions. Thus, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939) takes us to the years of the Great Depression. There were many variables that caused the Great Depression, but the wealthiest people triggered it by agricultural laws, federal land policies, and many more. Without a doubt, Dust Bowl was one of the most tragic occasions in American history because the wealthiest people decided to take the tenant farmers from their land with federal land policies and agricultural laws (“History” para. 2). Therefore, many farmers had to leave their land and go to the West for a job. In this direction, Steinbeck's novel reveals the effects and truths which came after the Dust Bowl, and it concentrates on the Joad family's journey to California for a better future. However, along the way, they witness unspeakable things, hostility, and they come to the point where they lose their loved ones, and they are tested by their moral virtues.
First of all, to understand The Grapes of Wrath, one should know the historical events of the United States because the novel is mostly linked with American history, especially The Great Depression years. Secondly, one should examine the writer's identity and personal background. Thus, John Steinbeck was born in 1902, Salinas, California, and he spent his days there until he went to Stanford University. However, he dropped out of school and did not take a degree. Before his books attained success, he spent considerable time supporting himself as a manual laborer while writing and his experiences lent authenticity to his depiction of the lives of the workers in his stories (“John Steinbeck” para. 4). In his early writings, one can see the impacts of his personal experiences on his novels. Thus, The Grapes of Wrath was his masterpiece in terms of characterization, naturalistic prompt, and the story itself. Also, he witnessed the Great Depression years, and as a manual laborer, he faced the difficulties of working conditions and unfair wages.
Moreover, when the novel is examined, one can see that both the Joad family and all tenant farmers struggle to stay alive and be hopeful for the future. However, in the second chapter of the book, through Tom and the car driver's conversation, one can notice that things are different than the time he was first arrested and went to jail because of murder. The car driver does not want to upset Tom at first, but he has false expectations and hopes for the future. Eventually, he learns the reality about his family's and all tenant farmer's conditions because they no longer have land to live on; and in the first five chapters of the novel, a reader witnesses farmer's worries about their dying crops and families. However, they have no other chance to leave their land behind and go on a journey to the unknown.
In these chapters, the characters' emotional states are depressive, and some local people refuse to go to California, and they separate from their families. For instance, Mulay Graves chooses not to go with his family and lives in a cave. Also, Tom's grandpa is one of those characters too because the night before they go on a journey, he refuses to go, but Ma and Pa Joad put a sleeping pill to his drink and take him to the truck. At first, grandpa Joad is hopeful about California, but when he sees Mulay, he has second thoughts about it. The road to California is not easy because the family has to cross over the deserts and hills of Mexico. Also, they have a limited amount of money until they reach California. More specifically, both the Joad family and all tenant farmers sell their valuable objects for very low prices because they cannot carry everything with themselves. Therefore, some people take advantage of their situations and buy their objects at low prices.
Once the tenant farmers become migrant farmers on the road, everything changes because they are about the face the most difficult experiences of their lives. Also, on the road, the leadership dynamics of the family switch, and both male and female characters start to do same daily tasks. Therefore, after grandpa's death, Ma takes more responsibility than Pa because she becomes the leader of the family. For example, when the family is about to go across the California border, grandma dies, and Ma does not tell anyone because their grandmother's loss can negatively affect the family. In other words, she knows what is best for her family and takes action for their well-being.
On the road, the family meets with some people who tell them truths about California, but they constantly think that it will be different for them. Thus, when they arrive there, they see that circumstances are even worse than they heard. They try to find jobs for weeks, but California landowners hate Okies, and they pay very low wages for difficult jobs. Also, law enforcement of the area does everything to create more difficulties for migrant workers. For instance, they shot a girl because she asks a decent salary for the job.
Then, Jim Casy attacks the police officer behind, knocks him out with a rock, and takes to fault for it. In another instance, Casy defends a migrant again, and this time police officer kills him. Therefore, Tom kills the police officer to take his revenge. After this, he has to hide until her sister accidentally tells some people that his brother killed two people. Thus, he cannot hide in the woods anymore, and he leaves his family behind for a better cause which is organizing migrant families to become unions. As the novel reaches the last chapter, a reader witnesses the most intense moment of the book. Tom's sister Rose of Sharon, gives birth to a dead child, and Ma immediately orders Uncle John to bury the baby. Also, the stormy weather and downpour rain reach the barn they live. Therefore, the family searches for a new place to stay for few nights. Then, they find a barn, and inside there is a dying man and a young boy. The boy tells his father to give all the food to him, and now he is dying. He needs something to drink, such as soup or milk. Ma immediately looks at Rose of Sharon, and they leave the barn. Eventually, she breastfeeds the man and saves his life.
The Grapes of Wrath Analysis: Conclusion
Consequently, this paper focuses on analyzing and reviewing John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. The novel takes place in the most horrifying years of United States history. It is linked to Great Depression and Dust Bowl. Through the Joad family's journey, the reader witnesses all migrant farmers' journeys as well. Thus, the novel reflects their struggles for staying alive. They start their journey with great hopes, but along the way, they witness unspeakable things, hostility, and they come to the point where they lose their loved ones, and they are tested by their moral virtues.
History.com Editors. "Dust Bowl." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 04 June 2021.
"John Steinbeck." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Web. 04 June 2021.
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