, Research Paper
JC (Jim Casy): JC (Jesus Christ)
A man sat on the ground, leaning against the trunk of the tree. His legs were crossed and one barefoot extended nearly as high as his head. (Pg. 25) That comfortable man was Jim Casy. At this point in the book Tom Joad meets the ex-preacher. Tom invites Casy along with him to find his family, once they find the rest of the Joads; Casy is invited to go on the journey to California with them in hopes of prosperity. Casy s initial introduction of a comfortable, simple man is truly a misleading understatement of his true character. Jim Casy, is a very complex, and dynamic man. He has an almost a Christ-like existence.
Jim Casy is an interesting, and complicated man. He can be seen as a modern day Christ figure, minus the belief in the Christian faith. The initials of his name, J.C., are the same as Jesus Christ. Casy was hailed and respected by many for being a preacher. Casy and Jesus both saw a common goodness in the average man and saw every person as holy. Both Christ and Casy faced struggles between their ideals versus the real world. (Despite Casy’s honesty, goodness, and loyalty to all men, he would not earn a meal or warm place to stay. Although Jesus had many followers, still others opposed his preaching.) Casy once said, “I gotta see them folks that’s gone out on the road. I gotta feelin’ I got to see them. They gonna need help no preachin’ can give ‘em. Hope of heaven when their lives ain’t lived? Holy Sperit when their own sperit is downcast an’ sad?” Casy wished to reach out to others in spite of his own troubles. He wanted to give them sprit, hope and rejuvenate their souls. Jesus too felt that need. When Casy is saying grace in chapter eight, he compares himself to Jesus: “I been in the hills, thinkin’, almost you might say like Jesus wen into the wilderness to think His way out of troubles.” Casy was beginning to feel confused, troubled and stressful about his faith, but when he went into the wilderness and rediscovered nature, he was a new man with a newfound faith. Jim Casy was similar to Jesus Christ but his personality traits did not end there.
Jim Casy’s personality is one of the most non-judgemental in the world. He believes that every one is created equal no matter what their physical differences, political class, or position in the world might be. He shows this by never uttering a hurtful word at anyone, sacrificing his own welfare to picket and raise the wages of other workers, and not faltering when he or his group mates were called derogatory names. Jim Casy was forever grateful to the Joads for letting him travel with them and talked of going off by himself to pay them back several times. He once said, “I wanna do what’s bes’ for you folks. You took me in, carried me along. I’ll do whatever.” Casy never asked for money while he was preaching because he knew the position his listeners were in, even though he was also desperate for money. Casy said in chapter four, “I brang Jesus to your folks for a long time, an’ I never took up a collection nor nothin’ but a bite to eat.” Since Casy believes that we all have a small part of a larger soul, and everybody is holy, we are therefore equal. As Tom said, “one time he went out in the wilderness to find his soul, an’ he foun’ he jus’ got a little piece of a great big soul.” Once and for all stating equality, and universal holiness.
Casy is also a harmonious man. He believes in unity and that because people are all part of something greater than themselves, we should help one another out, and work together because otherwise we are all lost. “Why do we got to hang it all on God or Jesus? Maybe,’ I figgered, ‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love: maybe that’s the Holy Sperit- the human sperit- the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.” He thinks that people working in cooperation is holy: “When they’re all workin’ together, not one fella for another fell, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang — that’s right, that’s holy”(pg 71). Tom once said Casy recited to him Ecclesiates 4: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. Tom Joad also said, “maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one. … I’ll be ever’where wherever you look.” Casy was a Christ-like, and harmonious man although he still had his own personal conflicts.
Although Jim Casy has always seemingly been a man of God and Jesus, he battles with his faith throughout The Grapes of Wrath. He feels like he is contending with the very ideals he has spread to others- traditional ideals of God and Jesus. Casy started to question his own beliefs and what was said in the Bible. Casy lost many hours of sleep just thinking about this, and went through many days without even speaking. He began to have doubts about God, Jesus, and about the afterlife altogether. He went from a man of God to a man of everyone. Casy once said,”An I says, ‘Don’t you love Jesus?’ Well, I thought an’ thought an’ finally I says, ‘No, I don’t know nobody name’ Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people.’ ” After Casy challenged his inner belief of God and Jesus, he began to openly accept and tolerate unholy behaviors. In fact some of Casy’s new beliefs not only questioned the basic belief in God and Jesus, but also the content of the Bible and what a regular preacher would say or do. Casy felt you should not judge anyone but yourself, where as the Bible openly condemns certain situations, labels, sexual orient, behavior, and practices. Casy believes you should do what you feel and doesn’t believe in right or wrong. Casy once said, “I didn’ even know it when I was preachin’, but I was doin’ some consid’able tom-cattin’ around.” He told of times when he lacked responsibility, filled girls up with the Holy Spirit by his preachings and then continually took them out with him to “lay in the grass.” He once said, “There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s as far as any man got a right to say.” Casy struggled with his personal inner faith, and also his actions and speeches that defied what a regular man of the faith would do. There is another example of Casy s complexity. He could even be considered more complex then a Christ- like figure, because he does not agree with all of the beliefs that Christ did, but still follows out his good will.
Jim Casy came across conflicts between himself and the rest of society. He attempted to organize the migrants but saw great difficulty. After Casy was let out of jail he (and other wise men) picketed outside a peach-picking camp for higher wages. Although he managed to organize those few men, and kept the wages at a reasonable price while on strike, he could not persuade the others inside the workplace to join him. “Tell ‘em [the people who are picking peaches] they’re starvin’ us an’ stabbin’ theirselves in the back. ‘Cause sure as cowflops she’ll drop to two an’ a half jus’ as soon as they clear us out,” Casy said referring to the fact that unless the people in the camp did something- like went on strike- they would ’stab themselves in the back’ because the wages would go back down. However, the people in the camp only cared about the five they were making at the time and nothing else. A reason Casy’s attempts at organizion failed was because the people were afraid to organize. As soon as there is a group of strikers the cops throw them in jail or threaten them.
Jim Casy encounters more external difficulties when he crosses paths with cops. In chapter 20, Floyd, John, Tom and Casy have a physical fight with a deputy. In an unrelated incident, an officer threatened to set fire to the camp Casy’s friends were staying at. When Casy was trying to organize some men, cops were continually breaking them down. “We tried to camp together, an’ they [cops] druv us like pigs. Scattered us. Beat the hell outa fellas. Druv us like pigs…We can’t las’ much longer. Some people ain’t et for two days,”said Casy. “Cops cause more trouble than they stop,” Casy also mentioned. Thus is a man much like Christ, who has seen animosity and enmity soon near the time of their death and has not been afraid. Like Christ, Casy was jailed and later abused by the people in authority and, brutally slain. He died, like Christ saying to his crucifiers, “You don’ know what you’re a-doin.”
In conclusion, Jim Casy is a rather Christ-like, harmonious, and a very realistic character who has seen the challenges of organization, authority, his own faith, reception from others, and his own ever- changing personality. This man can be looked at as a martyr, ethical, sacred individual, and yet ironically an “Okie”, hobo, or virtue-less bum. However The Grapes of Wrath and Jim Casy are undisputed symbols of hope, dreams, spirit and the unity of all humanity.