Grapes Of Wrath Essay, Research Paper
Themes Portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is a classic novel with great social importance. It is a work of realism, representing the world as it was, no sugar-coating. John Steinbeck portrayed a time of serious crisis in our country. He uses the Joad family to illustrate many important social problems that were seriously disturbing the chemistry of the nation. The novel is used as a desperate call for help and change within the workings of America. Steinbeck also illustrates human determination and will to live through the struggles and triumphs of the Joads. The two important themes Steinbeck illustrates in The Grapes of Wrath are those of socialism and human perseverance.
Socialism lies deep within this novel. During a time when the economic system failed most Americans, these ideas became very popular. Steinbeck portrays the capitalist system as a failure and calls for reform. He depicts the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The wealthy take advantage of the desperateness of the poor to demand low wages and gain high profits. In chapter 21 Steinbeck writes When there was work for a man, ten men fought for it-fought with a low wage. If that fella ll work for thirty cents, I ll do it for twenty And this was good, for wages went down and prices stayed up. And pretty soon we ll have serfs again. A great owner bought a cannery. And when the peaches and the pears were ripe he cut the price of fruit below the cost of raising it. As a cannery owner he paid himself a low price for the fruit and kept the price of canned goods up and took his profit. And the little farmers who owned no canneries lost their farms The rich landowners are cornering the market and cutting everyone else out of business. They gain more and more profits by putting others on the street. Steinbeck is telling us something must be done. It s a call for equality between men both socially and economically. He s telling us it s not fair for a small group to have everything while the majority is struggling to survive. With this excerpt from page 320 There s thirty thosan acres, out west of here. Layin there. Jesus, what I could do with that, with five acres of that! Why, hell, I d have ever thing to eat and this from 467 The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees must be destroyed to keep up the price The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back Steinbeck suggests the socialist idea of sharing the land equally. Throughout the novel, capitalism is portrayed negatively and a solution of sharing and equality, or socialism, is presented.
Another idea expressed in The Grapes of Wrath is that of determination and perseverance. From the epic struggle of a turtle to climb a highway embankment in chapter 3, all the way to the final words of the book, struggle and determination become a big part of the novel. The turtle desperately struggles and frantically pushes upward until finally it reaches the highway. Even once it s reached the highway it still struggles as a truck tips it over and little by little it gets itself upright. The turtle is very symbolic of the Joad s journey and struggles throughout the book in which they survive because of they never give up. The hardships of the Joads start from the very beginning when they are forced to leave their land. But, they don t give up. Instead they work very hard to save up enough money to set out for California. They struggle along the road and in the process bury two relatives, but nothing can stop them. However, their persistence is best illustrated in their latter days in California when both food and money have gotten low. Ma, is the most determined to keep the family alive which is shown by this quote from 479 Now you figger, I ain t watchin my fambly starve no more.. Come time for Rosasharn to lay in, she got to be fed up. You figger! They search and scrounge for work and when they find it, it doesn t last. They somehow manage to survive. However, the best example of the will to live expressed in this book comes at the very end. Seeking shelter from the rain in a nearby barn, the Joads come upon a man that is in the process of dying from starvation. With no food or money, it seems as though the Joads can do nothing but sit and watch the man die. But, as a last resort, Rosasharn uses her breast milk to nourish the man and bring a little life back into him. The Joads have extreme will to live. They refuse to fail, and always manage to get through their trials.
Steinbeck s masterpiece is a very accurate portrayal of an era in which our country was very much in trouble. He uses the Joad family to show what hundreds of thousands of Americans suffered as a call for attention to this major problem. It s obvious he wanted something to change within the economical workings of the country. Serious themes of socialism lie beneath the story. Rationing of the land instead of giving it all to the upper class and big corporations would save many people from hunger, persecution, and death. Another important theme within the epic tale is that of human strength and will to survive. The Joads are so determined and set on survival, nothing can stop them. They flat out refuse to fail and will battle it out till their deaths.