John Steinbeck uses symbolism to enrich his writing. Several of these symbols can be found in his book, The Grapes of Wrath. The Joad’s, a family from Oklahoma, are in search of a better life. They leave their home in journey to California because of the dust bowl. The symbols in the book are the dust, the turtle, names of people, and the grapes. These symbols give the reader an additional perspective of the book. Dust represents life and death. Dust makes a mess of things and leaves possessions under a mucky film. The farming in Oklahoma becomes difficult because the heavy winds uplift the soil and carry it great distances.

Then the farmers are left with no soil to grow their crops. The Joad’s livelihood depends on the soil. If the soil is rich, then it will feed hundreds. But if the soil is dry, it destroys crops and causes famine. The dust covers Oklahoma and leaves the Joad family with no other choice, but to move. The Joad’s journey to California is as slow as a turtle. Heat in the desert, car problems, and the death of the grandparents make the journey long and painful. A turtle shelters himself by pulling his head, legs, and tail inside his shell. The Joad’s gather together as a family to comfort and shelter themselves.

A turtle feels safe when it enters his shell and the Joad’s feel safe when they gather as a family. There is symbolic significance in the names of characters throughout The Grapes of Wrath. Tom, one of the main characters, is hitchhiking home when he stumbles upon a preacher by the name of Jim Casey. Jim baptized Tom, but now he is no longer preaching because he has found that everything is holy and man needs no preacher. His initials are J. C. which are the same as Jesus Christ. Jim shows similar characteristics to Jesus Christ. He sacrifices himself for Tom.

Tom has caused a deputy to loose his suspect and is said to be under arrest, but Casey steps in and takes the blame. “It was me, alright” (p. 364). Casey is taken by two deputies, but appears to be proud because he knows he has done the right thing. “Between his guards Casey sat proudly, his head up and the stringy muscles of his neck prominent” (p. 364). He gives up his freedom so the Joad’s can accomplish their dreams as a family. Tom then meets Muley Graves, an old neighbor. Muley shows animal like characteristics and acts like a mule. Just like a mule, Muley is stubborn.

He refuses to leave his land after he has already lost it. “I’ll be aroun’ till hell freezes over. There ain’t nobody can run a guy name of Graves outa this country. An’ they ain’t done it, neither” (p. 62). Muley’s last name symbolizes death. The fact that he is to die on his land. Everyone is tractored off the land, but him. As the Joad’s are forced to move off their land, they decide to move west, to California. After traveling all night they finally reach the mountains on the other side of the desert. Everyone gets out of the truck to gawk at the beautiful fields.

But not everyone sees the same thing. Tom claims that Ruthie and Winfield, his younger siblings, are the ones that see the true beauty. “Who’s really seein’ it is Ruthie an’ Winfiel'” (p. 313). Winfield is young and his name hints to the reader that he might “win the fields” from the rich farmers down the line. He is capable of working the land and may be the first farmer of the Joad family. While Ruthie, she is ruthless. She is very cruel and finds it hard to share. She was nibbling on some cracker jacks and some kids came and asked for some crackers, but Ruthie, she wouldn’t share.

So Ruthie got mad an’ chased em, an’ she fit one, an’ then she fit another, an’ then one big girl got up an’ licked her” (p. 563). Although she appears to be strong in reality she is weak . Grapes are the fruit of the vine; something sweet. But in actuality for the Joad’s they are a disappointment. The Joad’s talk about them as being this wonderful fruit that will bring them a better life. They will pick the grapes and earn money. But as they stare at the open fields they realize that it is all just a dream. There are no grapes. They continuously think of the grapes as an escape from their depression.

The grapes would be so fruitful that they would be able to bathe in the sweetness, but in their case it turns out completely different. Discussing the symbols of the dust, the turtle, the names, and the grapes makes the reader aware of another aspect of the story. The reader is able to realize just how well Steinbeck is able to bring his stories to life. As a reader you learn to appreciate his style of writing. Once you read his books you realize that he is not only a author, but an artist too. John Steinbeck uses symbolism to enrich his writing.

Several of these symbols can be found in his book, The Grapes of Wrath. The Joad’s, a family from Oklahoma, are in search of a better life. They leave their home in journey to California because of the dust bowl. The symbols in the book are the dust, the turtle, names of people, and the grapes. These symbols give the reader an additional perspective of the book. Dust represents life and death. Dust makes a mess of things and leaves possessions under a mucky film. The farming in Oklahoma becomes difficult because the heavy winds uplift the soil and carry it great distances.

Then the farmers are left with no soil to grow their crops. The Joad’s livelihood depends on the soil. If the soil is rich, then it will feed hundreds. But if the soil is dry, it destroys crops and causes famine. The dust covers Oklahoma and leaves the Joad family with no other choice, but to move. The Joad’s journey to California is as slow as a turtle. Heat in the desert, car problems, and the death of the grandparents make the journey long and painful. A turtle shelters himself by pulling his head, legs, and tail inside his shell. The Joad’s gather together as a family to comfort and shelter themselves.

A turtle feels safe when it enters his shell and the Joad’s feel safe when they gather as a family. There is symbolic significance in the names of characters throughout The Grapes of Wrath. Tom, one of the main characters, is hitchhiking home when he stumbles upon a preacher by the name of Jim Casey. Jim baptized Tom, but now he is no longer preaching because he has found that everything is holy and man needs no preacher. His initials are J. C. which are the same as Jesus Christ. Jim shows similar characteristics to Jesus Christ. He sacrifices himself for Tom.

Tom has caused a deputy to loose his suspect and is said to be under arrest, but Casey steps in and takes the blame. “It was me, alright” (p. 364). Casey is taken by two deputies, but appears to be proud because he knows he has done the right thing. “Between his guards Casey sat proudly, his head up and the stringy muscles of his neck prominent” (p. 364). He gives up his freedom so the Joad’s can accomplish their dreams as a family. Tom then meets Muley Graves, an old neighbor. Muley shows animal like characteristics and acts like a mule. Just like a mule, Muley is stubborn.

He refuses to leave his land after he has already lost it. “I’ll be aroun’ till hell freezes over. There ain’t nobody can run a guy name of Graves outa this country. An’ they ain’t done it, neither” (p. 62). Muley’s last name symbolizes death. The fact that he is to die on his land. Everyone is tractored off the land, but him. As the Joad’s are forced to move off their land, they decide to move west, to California. After traveling all night they finally reach the mountains on the other side of the desert. Everyone gets out of the truck to gawk at the beautiful fields.

But not everyone sees the same thing. Tom claims that Ruthie and Winfield, his younger siblings, are the ones that see the true beauty. “Who’s really seein’ it is Ruthie an’ Winfiel'” (p. 313). Winfield is young and his name hints to the reader that he might “win the fields” from the rich farmers down the line. He is capable of working the land and may be the first farmer of the Joad family. While Ruthie, she is ruthless. She is very cruel and finds it hard to share. She was nibbling on some cracker jacks and some kids came and asked for some crackers, but Ruthie, she wouldn’t share.

So Ruthie got mad an’ chased em, an’ she fit one, an’ then she fit another, an’ then one big girl got up an’ licked her” (p. 563). Although she appears to be strong in reality she is weak . Grapes are the fruit of the vine; something sweet. But in actuality for the Joad’s they are a disappointment. The Joad’s talk about them as being this wonderful fruit that will bring them a better life. They will pick the grapes and earn money. But as they stare at the open fields they realize that it is all just a dream. There are no grapes.

They continuously think of the grapes as an escape from their depression. The grapes would be so fruitful that they would be able to bathe in the sweetness, but in their case it turns out completely different. Discussing the symbols of the dust, the turtle, the names, and the grapes makes the reader aware of another aspect of the story. The reader is able to realize just how well Steinbeck is able to bring his stories to life. As a reader you learn to appreciate his style of writing. Once you read his books you realize that he is not only a author, but an artist too.

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