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The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck portrayed the awakening of a man’s conscience dealing with his troubling trials throughout the novel. The character that goes through this monumental change is Tom Joad, son of two tenant farmers from Oklahoma. Tom’s conscience was changed from a loner who cared nothing about the people to a hardy leader of them. He first looked after his family on their trip that evolved into including the impoverished migrant farmers in California. At the beginning of the novel Tom Joad has just been paroled after spending four years in a state prison.

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He stops at a roadside cafe looking for a ride when he sees a truck with a “No Riders” sticker on it. Tom’s conversation with this trucker is his first witness to the suppression of an honest working man by the larger more wealthy corporations since his release from prison. The trucker tries to socialize with him at this point but Tom is too absorbed into his own interest in keeping to himself. Arriving at his house with Jim Casey, Tom visits the abandoned house with one corner having been knocked in by a tractor.

His family had been compelled to leave their land through repossession by the large corporations another example in Tom’s life how the larger are trying to control the less fortunate. This land had been his family’s source of pride and livelihood throughout his life with them and it’s loss was the first sizable impact on Tom’s conscience that would lead him to an awakening. After visiting the land the Joad family had lived on for many years Tom and Jim traveled to his uncle John’s house nearby. There Tom meets his family as they are making preparations to leave for California.

Tom’s family has already sold off every valuable possession they own while living under cramped conditions on old and soiled mattresses in a house not built to accommodate the size of the entire family. Tom realizes that a family cannot survive under these destitute conditions unless they cling together as one unit. Because of this realization Tom becomes protective of his family, leaving casting off portions of his selfishness for the betterment of his relatives. Tom’s final awakening comes when he meets Jim Casy for the final time outside a work camp in the midst of a strike.

There Jim Casy tells Tom that the only way the worker’s can obtain law and order as well as, fair wages, is to unite all the migrant workers together and fight against the larger controlling companies. The statement is driven home when he witnesses Jim Casy’s passive resistance in response to the threatened violence by the cops. As the police advance on Jim Casy he yells towards them, ” Listen, you fellas don’ know what you’re doin’. You’re helpin’ to starve kids. ” moments before his head is brutally crushed by a pick handle.

Enraged by the actions unfolded before him Tom grabs a pick handle and clubs one of the officers to death before hastily fleeing from the scene. This event finally made possible the awakening of Tom Joad. He recognized that if a common man were to ever get a fair chance to live their life, they would be forced to do so under a united cause. Tom’s awakening came slowly as he struggled to understand the toils of needing, not only to care for his family but organize the migrant workers into a force where they can achieve fair rights.

During the final chapters of the novel Tom recognizes the importance of Jim Casy’s work to unify the people bringing about a final awakening of his conscience. Through out history man has made many jouneys, far and wide. Moses’s great march through the Red Sea and Columbus’s transversing the atlantic are only, but a few of mans great voyages. Even today, great journeys are being made. Terry Fox’s run across Canada while having cancer is one of these such journeys. In every one of these instances people have had to rise above themselves and over come emence odds, similar to a salmon swiming up stream to fullfill it’s life line.

Intence drive and extreme fortitude are qualities they had to posses during their travels. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck shows the Joads endurence by his use of extended metaphors in intercalary chapters. Steinbeck uses intercalary chapters to provide background for the various themes in the novel. This effectivly forshadows upcoming events by telling of the general state of the local population in the intercalary chapters and then narrowing it down to how it effects the main characters of the novel, the Joads.

Setting the tone of the novel in the readers mind is another function of Steinbeck’s intercalary chapters. In chapter three, Steinbeck emaculatly describes the long tedious journey of a land turtle acoss a desolate highway. From the onset of his journey, the turtle encounters many set backs. All along the way he is hindered by ants, hills, and oak seeds under his shell. The turtles determination to reach his destination is most apearent when a truck driven by a young man swerves to hit the turtle. The turtle’s shell was clipped and he went flying off the highway, but stop the turtle did not.

He struggled back to his belly and kept driving toward his goal, just as the Joads kept driving toward thier goal. Much like the turtle from chapter three, the Joads had to face many great hardships in their travels. The planes of Olklahoma, with thier harsh summer weather, was the Joads desolate highway. The truck driver represented the Californians, whom Buried food and killed live stock to keep the Joads and others like them away from their dream. And sickness was their ants and hills. But even through all of this the Joads persevered. They were driven by great motivating powers – poverty and hunger.

Just as the turtle searched for food, the Joads were searching for paridise, “the garden of eden. ” The Joad’s journey is second to none in terms of adversity and length. The Joads incredible ability to over come all odds and keep going is epitimized in intercalary chapter three. Steinbeck uses his rendition of facts, the “turtle” chapter, to parallel the Joads struggle to reach the promise land. Just as the turtle endured, so did the Joads. Never digressing from their strait and narrow path to California. Grapes Of Wrath Questions 1. What are the chief reasons for the mass migration to California?

I think that the chief reasons for the mass migration to California where based on a few different reasons. The first reason was because everyone was poor. They didn’t have enough money to have the most basic necessities in life. They would even go to such lengths as to steal a neighbors house. No body was happy living in Oklahoma. They all had such hard lives that no one had time to do what they wanted to do. It was farm from sun up to sun down. That is what everyone did, and they didn’t even get that much compensation for all the devotion that they put into their work day, after day, after day.

If I worked at something for twelve hours a day, and just made hardly enough money to keep living, I would get quite frustrated and not be very happy at all. Another reason that people moved to California was so they could move on to a better place. Living in Oklahoma, really wasn’t all that good for the Joad’s. They couldn’t be very happy at what they had. They where a very proud family and wanted to get away and show everyone that they could do some good in this world for themselves. 2. Who are the members of the Joad family unit that set out for California? Briefly state what happens to each of them.

Ma, Pa, Ruth, Winfield, Uncle John, and Rose of Sharron all where in the barn. Rose of Sharron was breast feeding a old man, after her baby died. I think she was doing it for personal pleasures. I don’t think that she was sincere about the feeling to prolong the mans life. She was always selfish, and I still think she was at the end. I don’t blame Connie for leaving her. Al left with his fiancee named Aggie, to start a new life with her. Tom left to become another Jim Casey. He knew what the power of groups could do, the listed to Jim, and knew that he could make a difference.

Grandpa died, of natural causes, and they buried him in a field, tore a page out of the Bible and wrote how he wasn’t killed, and he died of natural causes. They then took the ripped out Bible page and put it in a bottle. Grandma died on the way through a check point. Rose had to hang on to her, and say she was really sick to a cop. The cop fell for it, even though grandma had been dead for a few hours. Noah left early in the book, the said that he was going fishing and walked down a river. Flash, the family pet, got killed by a new car. The man at the gas station said he would bury it, I believe that he did.

The car that hit the dog, slowed down, looked back, and sped off. Connie left, probably because he was sick of Rose. Uncle John almost died while making the dam, but he was helped by Grandpa. He made it to the barn. Jim Casey got his head smashed in for trying to help his own people. Building up a union against the peach pickers, which where making high money, and making it impossible to live. Jim died for what he believed in, and Tom knew it, he followed in Jim’s footsteps. 3. In what ways where the migrant workers exploited? How does Jim Casey fight against the exploitation of the migrant workers?

How successful is he? The ads would say 800 people needed to pick peaches, good wages. But actually there where only 100 jobs available. They would get a lot of people to come to California, then the competition for the jobs would be high. People need to eat, so the high wages come into effect. Jim Casey fights against the exploitation of the migrant workers by building a small union. It does work, because the next load of people that come through, which was the Joad family and many others, all got a lot more money to do things, because the need for workers was high.

Jim knew that if there were no workers, the fruit would spoil, and the companies would go out of business. He was on the right track, and it worked for a while, but they caught up to him and smashed his head into the ground. 4. What is the symbolic significance of the dust, the turtle, and the grape? How does Jim Casey function as a symbol? The symbolic significance of the dust, is in my opinion because of the lack of the ability to see what is in front of you. Not being able to predict where you are headed, or what is around the corner. The turtle getting ran over by the truck driver, intentionally, really symbolizes a lot.

It shows the big companies walking over the people, the people fall down, and then get back up slowly and come crawling back for more of it. They have to, because they couldn’t survive any other way. The grape symbol is in my opinion that they life blood of the people is being stomped out of them. Then it is enjoyed by the rich people. Some people would say that Jim Casey functions as a symbol because his name is like Jesus Christ’s. I don’t think this is true. I think that Jim Casey was a good man, and he taught Tom a lot about life, and about groups. To let Tom continue in his foot steps.

But I don’t think it really goes much further than that. 5. Compare life in Hooverville with life in the government camps. The government camps where good because people knew who to trust and who not to. The knew who was on who’s side, and they had others like them to protect them from the law. They could through suspicious people over the wall, and could feel protected and like normal human beings. Hooverville wasn’t a good place to be. They had way too much against them in Hooverville. 6. Choose one main character from this story and explain fully what you believe this person’s view points would be towards war, religion, and discrimination.

Jim Casey was a very interesting man. He had spent the majority of his life preaching to people. Teaching them rules and laws of life, and of God. He was a good man and only taught others what he firmly believed in. After many years of teaching he began to have doubts about God, Jesus, and about the afterlife altogether. I think that Jim Casey would strongly oppose war. I think he believes that no one should fight over a chink of land. I think that he would believe firmly in peace. I think that Jim Casey deep inside still believed in Jesus and in God.

I think he just thought too much about it all of his life, and began to grow doubts. I think that he was a very good man, even if he did have doubts about some things. I think that Jim would be one of the most unprejudiced people in the world. I think that he would believe that every one is created equal no matter what there physical differences might be. I think that he would gladly be friends with someone different than him. I think that he was an honest to goodness man, who knew what he believed in and stood up for them, no matter what the consequences might be.

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