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The Grapes of Wrath: The Purpose of the Interchapters

Initially, I found the interchapters to be annoying, interruptions to the story. It was only when I realized the point in having the interchapters that I understood that not only did they not interrupt the story, but they added to it tremendously. The interchapters provide indirect comments or general situations which suggest something about the personal tragedies of the main characters. These comments and situations help give the reader an understanding of what the characters are going through by either showing metaphorically their present or future triumphs and struggles or explaining the history of the period that they lived in.

Chapter three is an interchapter. It describes a concrete highway that a land turtle struggled to cross. The turtle was finally almost there when it was hit by a truck and its shell was chipped and it was thrown on its back. The turtle had to struggle even hard but it did get going again. This chapter represented the continual struggle of that the Joads would have to face throughout the entire story. Throughout the novel the Joads meet many hardships. They are forced to leave their home, lose family members such as the grandparents and Noah, work for low wages, and suffer from hunger floods and cruel prejudices in California.

But, just as the turtle refused to be swayed from his purpose so will the Joads. Chapter five is an interchapter that discusses a tractors hired by banks or a corporations that would come to the land and plow through it, destroying everything in its path. The chapter is an abstract conflict between the tenant farmer and the banks and shows the pain of a tenant farmer upon leaving the land that was settled by their grandfather. The tenant farmer was so upset that he threatened to shoot the driver . Another chapter describes a tenant farmer who has to leave and is cheated into paying to much for a car.

Chapter nine describes the generalized families who must sell their sentimental goods at absurdly low prices. These chapters present the situations which the Joads come across very soon. The Joads have to leave their land and sell all their things. Pa dreads telling Ma, in chapter ten, the price he sold their things for. Grandpa threatens to kill the tractor driver who was plowing their land just like the tenant farmer who Steinback described. The Joads had to buy a used car in order to go to California. The interchapters provided general social situations which Joads had to face.

Interchapters nineteen and twenty one the development of land ownership in California. Chapter nineteen explains how the Americans took California from the Mexicans and people known as squatters acquired lots of land and thought of it as their own. They hired people to work the land and became great owners. The problem was that many people from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas began to arrive and the owners didn’t want them to become squatters so they hated them and called them Okies. These owners cut wages in order to pay policemen to guard and protect their property.

In the next chapter, the Joads are called Okies and a young man explains to Tom that the people are afraid that the Okies will get organized if they stay in one place for long enough so they push them around. This man also explains how no one can get people together to organize because the cops will arrest whoever starts up. Chapter twenty one describes how the people with small jobs in California are afraid of the Okies because they don’t want to lose their jobs. The big companies could make wages very low because people were starving and would work for low wages.

The following chapter explains how Tom met Timothy Wallace who told him that he would only have his job for a couple of days and his wages were being cut. The interchapters describe general situations and the chapters after them explain how that particular situation affects or will affect the Joads. The reader can learn many details about the hardships that the Joads went through by reading about the hardships of the migrant workers as a whole. By certain metaphors, like the turtle, that Steinback used in the interchapters we can learn about the nature and the struggle of the Joads throughout the novel.

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