The Grapes of Wrath
The 100 best novels: No 65 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Police harassing helpless tenant farmers. Tractors razing houses to the ground. Overworked employees and their loved ones struggling to avoid starvation. As the Joads and many other families travel across the country to California in search of economic prosperity, they face many hardships. Roosevelt said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ Even though the president of the time believed we needed to assist those struggling from the depression, many of those in need were treated cruelly.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath demonstrates the injustices committed against American farmers during the Great Depression. At the beginning of the novel, Tom comes home to see his house deserted. His family was evicted by a company that owned a vast amount of land during a time of hardship throughout the country. They are forced to live with “Uncle John” until they earn enough money to travel to California. While the family works to earn enough money for a car to travel to California, a tractor comes and razes their home to the ground. Even though the land was theirs for the taking, it was unjust to force tenant farmers off the land on which they had raised their families. These American farmers, already struggling from the Dust Bowl, were forced to evacuate their homeland in search of employment. During the Dust Bowl, groves of unemployed farmers migrated to California to find jobs. Because there was an overabundance of migrants and limited jobs, the wages were extremely unfair. Most migrant workers made less than two or three dollars a day. As jobs became a rarity throughout the American southwest, families ran out of options and were forced to stay in camps. These camps were drowning with starving families.
When work was available the workers had no choice but to take the jobs. These jobs were not stable income because the employers could fire employees or lower their wages at any time. Law enforcement was another major cause of injustice in the novel. While the Joads were staying at camps in California, they discovered that many police officers were corrupt. The police would always side with the rich landowners. This meant that the police often were negligent toward the migrants. These migrants, such as the Joads, were often referred to as “Okies,” which was a derogatory term for Oklahoma natives that were forced to leave during the Dust Bowl. In February of 1936, 125 police officers were sent to the borders of California to keep our the “undesirables” or “Okies”. This xenophobia toward the Okies allowed police to get away with horrendous acts against them. The police used extreme methods, such as burning down camps, in order to separate those on their “blacklist” who were suspected of forming unions.In The Grapes of Wrath there are numerous examples of injustice toward the migrant farmers. The Joads as well as other “Okies” were victims of xenophobia throughout what they thought was a land of great opportunity and economic prosperity. The actions taken by the wealthy companies and landowners, as well as law enforcement, made these already suffering migrant farmers lives much harder.
Emerging of New Womanhood in The Grapes of Wrath of Steinbeck
The artist does not create in vaccum, he depicts the values of the society which is part of and the framework of his writing,and by his imaginative power his works present a picture of his own particular society. Hebeside being a painter, also plays a crucial role in explaining and interpreting its menances and then recreating them by his own experiences and their works seems to be a kind of social commentary.The artist creates artistic works based on the ideas and problem of the time and thus provides an elaborate details of social situation as Steinbeck depicts the socio-economic milieu which determines the characters, he can be safely placed in the tradition of realistic writers. He has blended scientific ideas, social realities, economic thoughts, biological views with moralistic approach. He has every determinately advocated a humanitarian religion. Sometimes, dominated by his desire to convey social realities, he becomes oversympathetic with characters who are victims of society to the extent that he is labelled with the charge of sentimentality and sometimes he becomes too objective to be charged of being too detached.His works are characterized by a predominance of social problems.In this Noble Prize Acceptance speech/he clearly defines the role of a writer: ‘The ancient commission of the writer has not changed.He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit for gallantry in defeat for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation’.
Steinbeck went through many trails throughput his life which were difficult enough to deal with, among which many of experiences were very harsh and having adverse impact. Steinbeck’s life is the finest example of the saying whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger. Different phases of life, be it to be employed as a ranch hand or tobe a marine biologist or to be a war transcript writer, not only strengthen his being but also improved his writing. All the works of Steinbeck has in some or the other way a little piece of himself and it appears as if he has used his experience as a tool for his writing as many of his experiences are used in his novels. Sometime they are used so blatantly although used very well, suggest that they are having such an deep imprint on his mind and heart that he could not resist the temptation of sharing them with the people and instead of compiling books on his life he has incorporated his familiarities with the variety of professions and the people as well as the relationship that he formed with these people into the works through events and characters. Steinbeck met the variety of people during his life time owing to his different types of profession which aided him in the unique diversity of his characters. The Grapes of Wrath is a fiction work by Steinbeck which is based on the events experienced by him. The whole plot and structure of the novel revolves round the family of Joad which was directly affected by the Dust Bowl Tragedy. It follows the life and the journey of Joad family to Califorma in an attempt to leave their shattered life behind and start a new life staying together. Steinbeck believes that the path of independence and going alone may not always be the best solution and option for their family. Though the novel was looked upon by some critics only as a documentation of class struggle but the critics like Chester E. Elisinger praises it and point out that ‘Steinbeck was concerned with democracy, and looked upon agrarianism as a way of life that would enable us to realize the full potentialities of the creed’. Steinbeck has mirrored in this novel a number of social , political, cultural and economical aspects of an American family of Okhlahoma in the great Depression time of the thirties. Peter Lisca points out.
‘The Grapes of Wrath did not have a chance of being accepted and evaluated as a piece of fiction from the beginning it was taken as a substantial fact and its merits debated as a document rather than as a novel a small sampling of the relevant literature may indicate the nature of social political economical controversy which eclipsed The grapes of wrath as a novel.
The grapes of wrath on a surface label can be considered as a documentary book as he first went to Califorma as photographer from life magazine to observe the harsh condition of the migrant camps where he realished that the migration as well as the condition of these people was not to be taken so lightly rather was prefect material for an epic novel. But to confine the meaning of novel only to one particular land or social condition would undermine the significance of the novel since the novel has cosmic dimensions and universal significance and the framework of American society has been given a thematic extension which embraces the whole of mankind. Joad family epitomised the movement of humanity from a static position to an ever growing social, moral and spiritual state of human being. Natural calamities are the result of cumulative human action not only the wayward manifestation of nature and unless the people make united efforts for the improvement of the society. The Joad family is the strongest example of the unity throughout the novel and especially Ma.
Although women are considered very close to nature and man has controlled nature from primordial time by the weapon of culture making women away from the main stream as well as singled out from others inthe society. Steinbeck has also depicted the concept of the way families were run. At the beginning of twentieth century families were led by the men. They make the decision, they made the money for the family while women worked behind the scene and without taking any credit to their part, they used to do everything to make a better life for themselves and for their families but as the Dust Bowl struck, women’s role changed in the society. They started to take the charge of the family affairs since in the tough time of dispossession and migration it became inevitable for them to be financially independent to support the family Steinbeck has based the story on real events witnessed and experienced by him. In the Grapes of Wrath Ma Joad is one of the finest portrait of women character who transcend the commonly known traits of women. As the Joad clan disintegrates due to migration, Ma Joad emerges as a central and cohesive force. Though in the beginning she also has stood in the shadow and accepted the things for the way they were without questioning. The degenerating condition of the women is clearly evident in the lines of the novel: ‘And then he stood embrassed by his own speech. Ma looked to Tom to speak, because he was a man, but Tom did not speak. She let him have the chance that was his right and then she said. Why, we’d be proud to have you’. She is the mother of Tom and she has to see his director indirect permission before giving voice to her opinion only because she is a woman. Neither age nor her motherhood can give her the right to speak her mind. Even her husband threatens her with a beating in an attempt to salvage his position in the family, though soon he realises the truth that Ma would be better choice to lead the family and bear up the responsibliles but not ready to accept. Ma gradually rises to power and everything is done by her for the good of the family. When the men of the family came up with the idea to split of the family, she vehemently opposed to the disintegration and tried everything in her power to keep her family together. She ceased to exist the era of women being considered as property; once she stood up for herself and having her moment of threatening she surprised the Pa:
‘Ma stepped infront of him. I ain’ta gonna go. What you mean, you ain’tgonna go? You got to go. You got to look after the family: Pa was amazed at the revolt, Ma stepped to the touring car and reached it on the floor of the back seat. She brought out a jack handle and balanced it in her hand easily. I ain’ta gonna go; She said. ‘I tell you got to go. We made up our mind: And now Ma’s mouth set hard. She moved the jack handle gently again. An I’ll Shame you’.
In cup of Gold Steinbeck states: All girls and women hoarded something they never spoke of. Another life went on inside of women. Ma, Joad’s inside of a woman sublimates into love and she demonstrates the angelic quality of unqualified love for the member of her family which makes her the mother not only to her children but also to the family. She holds her dead mother in law all might long only when they passes away through the desert.She informs the family grandma’s death later on, she did it all to keep her family together and to enable them to survive the journey and discrimination of califorma. She does not get frustrated with the wretched condition in california rather exhibits optimism and firm belief in a better future. Being governed by her unshaken faith she sacrifices all the comforts of government camp and forces her family to move as she knows that the family need work. The last scene of the novel depicts the growth of Ma’s consciousness and raises her character to the size of a cosmic vision.
On finding the starving old man Ma: ‘looked at Rose a Sharon, huddled in the comforter Ma’s eyes passed Rose of Sharan’s eyes and then came back to them. And the two women looked deep into the each other. She said, yes. Ma smiled, I knowed you would I knowed. Rose of Sharon loosed one side of the blanket and bared her breast You got to she said and smiled mysteriously.
Life of Family in a Story The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is a story of family named Joad’s written by John Steinbeck. In the book, John Steinbeck mention the struggles faced by Joad’s family by travelling from their hometown Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California for finding a better life. They had a family of five, grandparents, parents and son. Author mentioned that they packed everything they needed in a truck and started travelled don’t knowing what they will encounter via route. The story line is created from the point of view happened in 1930’s.
They started their journey because during 1930 dust bowl happened. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms which damaged the land and destroyed fertility of agriculture field in American and Canadian prairies. It also damaged Sallisaw. Farmers over there don’t have money, so they borrowed money from banks and putted their lands as a guarantee. As Dust Bowl happened, land became useless and farmers don’t have money to repay it back to banks. Banks took there land instead of money. Joad family also one of the farmers who took money from bank and putted their land as a guarantee. As Dusk Bowl hits Sallisaw, they became helpless as they can’t grow anything on land. And as they have loan on their head, bank took their land and occupied. As they have no choice, they went to tom uncle’s place and then started moving to California.
They choose California because California is a fertile land and they thought they might find jobs over there. As they started moving to California, on there first stop they find Wilson’s family whose car is broke down. As Wilson’s family saw that grandpa is ill, they offered Joad family a tent. But after some time, grandpa got more sick and died. Instead of tent, Joad family helped Wilson to fix their car and decided to go on journey together. As the time went, grandma also started feeling sick because of grandpa’s dead. As both families reach the desert bordering California, Wilson’s wife fell sick and Joad family has to moved forward leaving Wilson’s family back. As they started moving forward, Grandma’s health became crucial. Halfway through the desert, grandma died. But Joad’s wife didn’t tell anyone, as she thought that telling in the middle of the desert will not good and she kept it from everyone. Once they travelled desert, Joad’s wife told everyone that Grandma died.
As they reach the end of desert. They buried grandma and went to look for a shelter. After some time, they found a camp. As Tom went to talk to man named Floyd Knowles, he sawed a businessman walking with a policeman to talk about job. When Floyd asked for written paper, policeman made him a criminal. As he went to arrest Floyd, Jim Casy, leader who fights for low wages, saved Floyd and pushed Policeman. After Cop came to consciousness, he arrested Casy and Joad family moved from that place to avoid any difficulties. After some time, they reached a government camp in Weedpatch. In this camp, there are certain people who formed their community to run that place. After spending some days, Joad’s didn’t find any job. After going somewhat farther, they found a place named Tulare. Where they found job in pick peached farm. But wages over there were too low. One day Tom saw the policemen which came up to him before, and somebody shouted Casy is dead and policeman killed him. He attacked policeman and in process his nose is broken, and he became wanted.
Tom escapes from farm and next morning whole family moved out of that place. After some time, they got job in cotton farm, but they must share their work with family called Wainrights. As Tom is wanted, he went to hide in a cave and his mother feed him daily by going to cave. After some time, Tom started to fight back against landowners because they are paying less to people.
As people in California increased, government started to remove migrants. Because people are not getting enough money to feed themselves one time per day also. As people started to claim residency of California, government named them Okies. Called to people who were from northern and southern Plaines.
As stock market crash in 1929, Americans were hugely affected. The most affected people were landowners and farmers. Because they don’t have a livelihood. As banks have the land papers, they don’t want to wait for economy to grow back. They took away all the land from farmers and landowners and took charge. As farmer already grow plants before this, banks cultivated whole farms and took their crops. As the farmer families don’t have much knowledge, they can’t find employment elsewhere. Banks hired farmers who lost their land and made them work on there on field for low wages. As farmers don’t have any choices they worked for low wages.
From my opinion, from this book I can say that the social and economic problems during thirties were worst. As we saw that people lose their lands but there is nobody to help them. Even government can’t help them. Banks were the most superior at that time I can say that, as they took all the lands during Dust Bowl and market crash. And they even forced farmers to work in low wages. New Deal became very useful to the people as president Roosevelt help all the farmers. As soon as he became president, he proposed New Deal and put banks on strike. He encourages people to deposit funds in bank and stop spending. He tried to stop emergency and help to increase stock market and end great depression. From new deal he also wants to create more jobs with proper wages and help people.
Summary Of a Summary Of The Grapes Of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinback, is about a boy who lived during the agricultural depression. The protagonist of the story is Tom Joad, a boy who lived in Oklahoma with his family as farmers. His family, the Toads, consisted of his Grandpa, Granma, Dad (Pa), Mom (Ma), uncle, and numerous other siblings. While their past was great as they made a lot of money due to World War I and a high demand of crop, their present left a lot to be desired. With a lot of debt and many loans on their shoulders due to the lack of demand in crop, they became a very poor family as did all the other farmers in Oklahoma. As a result local banks started getting scared wondering whether or not they would get their money back. On top of all this, what scared the banks even more was that the stock market crashed. Even nature seemed not to be on their side, as a drought occurred which dried out all the fertile soil and turned it into dust. All the ground water had also evaporated leaving the soil very dry. This is why the time period was known as the “Dust Bowl”. With all of these problems, people decided to go to a better place were there would be lots of jobs. Like everyone else, the Joad family made a decision to go to California and seek a better life. They sold all their possessions for whatever they could get and started their journey.
The journey was long and tiring, and as a result Tom’s grandparents both died. After a long time, they finally arrived at the San Joaquin Valley. The family started working right when they arrived and they barely made enough to survive. The jobs weren’t yearly jobs, but instead season-based jobs. Their job was to harvest certain crops for the farmers in exchange for some money. During one of these seasons, one of Tom’s old preachers from church started a strike in order to achieve higher pay and better conditions for migrant workers. The preacher named Casy was killed for starting the boycott. Casy’s death deeply angered Tom, so Tom killed the policeman that hurt Casy. Afterwards, he went and hid from society to prevent going to jail. One day, his story gets out that he killed a policeman, and as a result he builds up his courage and tells his mom that he wants to be like Casy. He takes some money his mom had given him and leaves his family to fight for and help migrants. Some time after Tom left, his eldest sister, the Rose of Sharon, was ready to give birth. The baby arrived dead and this left the Rose of Sharon sad as she had big plans for him.
Around the same time they were alerted that there was a starving man who needed something to eat or drink or else he would die. The Rose of Sharon gives some of her bodies milk to the man to save him. The symbolic move brings together the story to show how this was a time of struggle and pain. It shows how none of the rich people cared, only those in poverty looked out for one another. The story was written without a conclusion to show how they continuously struggled. John Steinback wanted to convey how there was no “better time”, the period was filled with only struggles and hardships.
Grapes of Wrath: How Dust Bowl Affected On People
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath is a novel set in the time of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. It tells a story of a family from Oklahoma who had lost their farm, as so many did during this time. The Dust Bowl, was caused by many factors including; drought, high winds, and unsustainable farming practices. During this novel we see a family’s journey as they travel from their home farm to California in search of a new start, work, and other agricultural opportunities. The Grapes of Wrath describe the struggles of labor workers in this era of new industrialization.
This story starts in Oklahoma, we are introduced to our first character Tom Joad, who had just gotten out of prison and put on parole. Tom hitches a ride and then walks back towards his home. On the way, he runs into the town’s preacher, Jim Casy, who has since retired from preaching. They walk back to where Tom grew up, only to find that most of the farm homes in the area had been abandoned. Tom’s home was abandoned and collapsing. At this point, Tom and Casy met one of Tom’s old neighbors, Muley Graves. He informed them that since Tom had been away, the land has dried up and has stopped producing. The cotton crop had sucked the land dry of nutrients, the drought has dried the soil, and the winds pick it up and take it away. The farmers did not practice crop rotation and also did not plant cover crops to hold the soil down. This is was a very hard way to learn a lesson in agriculture. A lesson nonetheless. The storm left most families with no work, as most were agricultural workers. This forced families into taking out loans from the bank, loans they could not pay back. So the banks took their homes. Muley’s family had left for California after the bank had evicted them, but Muley was too stubborn to leave. He stayed in town and camped where he could, catching and killing rodents for food, which he shared with Tom and Jim this night. This begins the emerging theme of kindness in community, which is expressed throughout the book. The neighbor described how representatives from the bank would come by and tell the families they had to leave their home. The frustration of the home owners grew. How could this land be taken from them? What are they to do for their families? What kind of man would put this hardship on hard working people? But the bank is not a man. Only a greedy corporation, as described:
”And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go. But it’s ours, the tenant men cried. WeNo. The bank, the monster owns it. You’ll have to go. We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then? Well—first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants. But if we go, where’ll we go? How’ll we go? We got no money. We’re sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can’t be responsible. You’re on land that isn’t yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall.” (Ch5)
This is our first example of a transition in the job market. Corporations are growing and they do not plan on stopping. They are also very detached from their customers. You will never meet the person who owns the bank and therefor your complaints and concerns mean little to nothing. We can all relate to this level of impersonalism with our large banks and grocery stores. Inhumanity is a major theme in The Grapes of Wrath. This example continues when we find out the men who worked for the bank were paid well to do this dirty work. One man said he was paid three dollars a day to take a tractor to the confiscated land. Although he felt bad about being part of kicking families out on the street, he could not turn down a job that paid so well. He had kids of his own to feed. The large corporation takes advantage of their socioeconomic status. Knowing they have limited choices for work now that the land is trash, these people become slaves to the company. These large banks are pushing people of lower socioeconomic class down further. The big guys stand tall against the little guys.
Muley brings Tom and Jim to where Tom’s family is staying. They are packing up a truck and getting ready to move. The men had sold all farming tools like a plow and tractor so they could scrape up some funds for the long trip to California. The men were ripped off and given less than two dollars for all of their equipment. The store owners knew that the people leaving town had to get rid of their stuff immediately, so they would take anything they could get. Meanwhile richer people were migrating into the town to reap the profit from the farm workers struggles.
The family comes together with limited funds and supplies with lots of people to take and feed on their trip. Even though the Joads are having hard times, Mrs. Joad always offers to feed anyone who is hungry. She presents this kindness throughout the whole book, always cooking for the men, children, and any other drifter who needs a hot meal. She reminds me of my mom in the way that she can always make something out of nothing. This also reminds me of our Urban Garden because we try to feed anyone if they need it. I think food is a basic human right and the Urban Garden and community gardens like it are always very generous and helpful. If you do not have food, you will not survive. Mrs. Joad understands this well and treats everyone with equal respect. This is kind of the opposite of everything else that is going on in the Joad’s life. While other people take advantage of their hardships and treat them inhumanely, Ma feeds people of any kind and makes them feel welcome and safe.
Along the way to California, the family faces many complications like automobile problems, the death of their grandpa, eventually the death of their grandmother, and constant harassment from local groups when stopping to camp. When the family is getting close to California, they stop somewhere to rest. They are approached by a local and the Joads discuss how they are traveling in search of work with the following dialog:
“Well, California’s a big State. It ain’t that big. The whole United States ain’t that big. It ain’t that big. It ain’t big enough. There ain’t room enough for you an’ me, for your kind an’ my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat. Whyn’t you go back where you come from? This is a free country. Fella can go where he wants. That’s what you think! Ever hear of the border patrol on the California line? Police from Los Angeles—stopped you bastards, turned you back. Says, if you can’t buy no real estate we don’t want you. Says, got a driver’s license? Le’s see it. Tore it up. Says you can’t come in without no driver’s license.”
This “Us against You” displays more inhumanity. They do not care about where you are coming from, only that you may be an inconvenience for their lifestyle. Not very kind at all. Even the police are abusing their authority to make the lives of the Oklahoma families harder. The image of police breaking the law to hurt people is troubling. Their job is to protect and serve the community, but instead they are essentially killing families because they cannot use empathy and see we are all from the same world, and great migration is part of history.
When the family finally makes it to California they stop somewhere to camp with other people traveling from Oklahoma, which the locals called “Oakies”. The Oakies were given hard work and very low wages wherever they went. They could not earn enough money to feed their families working this way. So they tried to make little, hidden gardens in the small, dirty camp they were staying in. Trying to provide any resources they could:
“Now and then a man tried; crept on the land and cleared a piece, trying like a thief to steal a little richness from the earth. Secret gardens hidden in the weeds. A package of carrot seeds and a few turnips. Planted potato skins, crept out in the evening secretly to hoe in the stolen earth. Leave the weeds around the edge—then nobody can see what we’re a-doin’. Leave some weeds, big tall ones, in the middle. Secret gardening in the evenings, and water carried in a rusty can. “ (Ch19)
Before the migrants could harvest these plants, the police would find them and rip them out of the ground. But they continued to work hard because as Steinbeck has addressed over and over in the novel is that people like to work. They like being able to provide for a family and do something productive within their communities. Coming home from a hard day of work is a really great feeling, especially if you know you are doing something good for your loved ones or community. I always feel good coming home after working in the Garden during class. I get some exercise, fresh air, and the reward of bringing home food to make dinner with. I also know that I am helping to provide food and a learning environment for other students. The family decides that they must leave this camp, because they had heard that the police were going to burn it to the ground.
The family traveled and found a new camp full of people just like them. This camp was more organized and had its own sets of rules and punishments that everyone obeyed. Staying here meant a place that the Joads felt safe and comfortable in. Everyone in the camp was treated with the same respect and had an equal voice in the community. Even when other people would stop in to cause trouble, the community did not harm them, but made a plan to safely escort them out. Contrary to the policies local police enforce. The family found work as peach pickers at the rate of five cents a box. Only to find out later that they were strike breakers. The original workers were on strike fighting unfair wages. Here is another great, layered example of inhumanity. The Joad’s come in looking for work, and by finding work they are keeping the original workers out of work. But they have to do this to put food on the table. They have no choice, similarly to the bank representatives who took their farm. During this time of hardworking people fighting for their dignity and against starvation, the owners of the company lose nothing, in fact they continue to gain profit off of the work of struggling people. It is very difficult to be a laborer at this time. On the upside for the Joads, they have a steady income including a higher paying job picking cotton, they are able to afford some new clothes and other “luxuries”, and they are even having fun at dances and social events within the community.
Chapter 25 has a great quote about the transition in farming. Some of them good, some not so sustainable:
“Behind the fruitfulness are men of understanding and knowledge, and skill, men who experiment with seed, endlessly developing the techniques for greater crops of plants whose roots will resist the million enemies of the earth: the molds, the insects, the rusts, the blights. These men work carefully and endlessly to perfect the seed, the roots. And there are the men of chemistry who spray the trees against pests, who sulphur the grapes, who cut out disease and rots, mildews and sicknesses. Doctors of preventive medicine, men at the borders who look for fruit flies, for Japanese beetle, men who quarantine the sick trees and root them out and burn them, men of knowledge. The men who graft the young trees, the little vines, are the cleverest of all, for theirs is a surgeon’s job, as tender and delicate; and these men must have surgeons’ hands and surgeons’ hearts to slit the bark, to place the grafts, to bind the wounds and cover them from the air. These are great men.”
This quote speaks of GMO’s, fertilization, pesticides, and preventing disease and the spread of invasive insects. People are getting smarter and understanding how to make bigger, better, more fruitful crops. This is good, but it is leaving behind farmers who are not educated on these things. This may include minorities, migrants, and people of lower socioeconomic status.
The last chapter of this book does not give a happily ever after for the Joads. They are more or less in the same position the whole book. Making a little more money now, but still no permanent home or guaranteed permanent work. Tom’s sister Maggie gives birth to a stillborn baby. The baby did not have essential nutrition to survive. But shortly after her birth, the family found a young boy with his father, who was dying of starvation. Maggie used her breastmilk to feed the man. This was so powerful to me because even though she had just suffered a huge loss, she is willing to share everything she has to help a complete stranger. A beautiful circle of life. She is just like her mother. Ma Joad had said earlier in the novel: “you’re in trouble or hurt or need — go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help.”
I think that people who come from a poor background understand some basic things: when people are cold, we clothe them,when they are sick, we treat them, and when they are hungry we feed them. Empathy plays such a huge role in a caring community. The Grapes of Wrath shows us that even through the intense struggle of this transition of labor, kindness in a community is one of the most valuable things.
A Search For Home in John Steinbeck’s Novels
“Get Off My Land!” And Other Tales of Searching For Home
John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of a poor farming family from Oklahoma that leaves its home during the Dust Bowl and flees to California, where its members hope to find jobs, but only find hatred. These types of stories abounded during the Dust Bowl, as some 2.5 million farmers left the Midwest, often under duress or against their will. Around half a million of these families, mostly from Oklahoma and Arkansas, travelled to California, the “Promised Land,” where they could find work – or so they believed. Instead, these families, like Steinbeck’s characters, the Joads, found that the Californian natives regarded them with hostility and resentment stemming from a fear of losing their jobs or their property. The Joads and thousands of other families like them drifted from place to place, hardening against the hatred that they face, as they searched for a place to call home (Steinbeck 282-284). This theme of struggling to find refuge is still relevant today. The civil war in Syria has forced millions of people from their homeland. They stream into nearby countries: Iraq, Turkey, Jordan. Although they are fleeing over country borders instead of state, the Syrian and “Okie” refugees both fit Steinbeck’s theme of searching for refuge; forced from their homes, they struggle to survive in an environment and among a people that face them with growing hostility.
Just as hundreds of thousands of Midwestern farmers unwillingly left their ancestral land during the Dust Bowl, nearly six million Syrians have been pushed from their homeland over the past three years by the civil war that tears their country apart (Vick 24). Steinbeck makes it clear that his characters, and the real people of the time, feel very reluctant to leave their homes, no matter how poor the land, and angry that they must. When the tenants learn that they have to leave, they grow angry. “It’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours,” they cry angrily (Steinbeck 33). Still, the all-powerful bank manages to drive them off, sometimes physically. In the same way, many native Syrians are forced out by the violence and chaos and the mounting shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities that affect Syria (Butler 44). Although they are glad to be alive, these refugees do not want to be in their current situation. “We are now in Turkey,” says one refugee. “We don’t want to be here. We want to go home, we want to fight” (Abouzeid 28). However despite the desires of both Syrian and “Okie” refugees, they cannot go home yet. Instead, both find shelter in camps set up by the government. For example, approximately eighty-three thousand Syrians have found refuge in Za’atari, one of the largest refugee camps set up in Lebanon (Vick 24). The United Nations control and run it, just as the US government created Hooverville, a camp where the Joads find refuge for some time. Both groups find discontent in their current situations, but they must bear it.
In both of these cases, the refugees are not the only ones who are upset; the locals of the land they are invading are increasingly hostile to their “invasion.” Most of the individuals in California, where many of these migrant famers fled during the dust bowl, disliked the “Okies,” some to the point of hate. As Steinbeck writes:
The owners hated them because the owners knew they were soft and the Okies strong, they were fed and the Okies hungry; and perhaps the owners had heard from their grandfathers how easy it is to steal land from a soft man if you are fierce and hungry and armed. And the shopkeepers hated them because they had no money to spend … The town men, little bankers, hated Okies because there was nothing to gain from them … And the laboring people hated Okies because a hungry man must work, and if he must work, if he has to work, the wage payer automatically gives him less for his work; and then no one can get more. (Steinbeck 233)
This tension and hostility appears in almost every interaction between the natives and these new “Okies.” This theme of clash between new and foreign is not confined to Steinbeck’s writing, and it appears in the current Syrian refugee crisis. The burden of millions of refugees has mainly fallen to Middle Eastern countries with poorer infrastructure and less money than North American and European nations. This has strained everything from roads to electricity grids to water supplies. Social tensions have grown noticeably as well over the past few years, exacerbated by inflation and competition for jobs that Syrian refugees are often willing to do for less money. “Jordanians and people in much of the Middle East are very welcoming and very accommodating to the idea of refugees. In the first year or two, there were a lot of open arms and sympathy,” says Bessma Momani, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. “There’s a great deal of resentment now, a feeling of: ‘How many more people can we take before this ship breaks?’” (Petrou 30). Though the Syrian’s hosts have not yet taken up arms or employed underhanded tactics to remove their guests, as the Californians did, the same hostility that Steinbeck depicts in his novel exists in the world today.
A critic might argue that these two refugee crises differ in that the “Okies” remained in their own country, with their own people, whereas the Syrians flood into other countries. Therefore it makes sense that the people of the surrounding Middle Eastern countries are irritated with the invasion of people not of their country or culture. Although this may appear to be a valid point, looking at these two situations from a larger perspective shows that this is not very important when determining if they are similar. Steinbeck’s theme of a people searching for refuge despite the hostility presented against them remains consistent throughout both cases. These reluctant migrants face resentment from the people they seek help from. Ultimately, it is not the state or country boundaries that matter, but the humanity that is pushed aside in the face of this hostility that remains the same in both cases.
This theme that Steinbeck incorporates into his novel still holds importance today. How does one react in the face of invaders who may steal jobs? How is one supposed to survive in the face of such hostility? Steinbeck writes of these issues just as they appear today. The story of the Joads and the view of humanity that it presents are no less relevant today than they were seventy years ago. Ultimately, a search for home is a struggle that everyone must face someday, though perhaps in a more figurative sense than the Joads or the Syrian’s case. Therefore this motif of “searching for refuge” that resounded so honestly through the readers during the Dust Bowl provokes the same understanding amongst readers today, and provides a lens through which a reader can view their world.
Depiction Of The Great Depression in Cinderella Man And The Grapes of Wrath
In the 1930s, America faced a huge economic downfall, where millions of people ended up losing everything. During that time period, an overwhelming majority of the American people started doubting the reality and legitimacy of the American dream. Even some of the richest people lost everything and became dirt poor due to the depression. A common though flowed through the country, that the term rags to riches is reversed and became riches to rags, leading to a disbelief in the American dream. Such an idea clearly appeared in the Cinderella Man movie and the Grapes of Wrath chapter. The two sources mentioned, saw and felt everything that the economic depression had to offer. People began to interpret the dream in various forms. For some the American dream became just a regular fantasy, for others the idea of the American dream became the light in the end of the tunnel. Both the Cinderella Man and the Grapes of Wrath plots demonstrate difficulties during the great depression that the people faced but each story line depicts a ton of an absolutely unique series of events and alternations that the characters had to encounter.
In Cinderella Man and in The Grapes of Wrath, main characters face similar drastic inconveniences regarding the reality of the American dream and other equally important situations. As people attempted to clench on to the rags to riches idea during the great depression, continues trend of constant losses followed every U.S. inhabitant. After the economic crisis arrived, people started losing houses in an unimaginable pace, “an entire family with two kids had to migrate to a small basement room with extremely cheap living conditions”. (Ron Howard) Thereafter, losing a huge house with prosperous lifestyle and transitioning to a pathetically cheap location, is one of the most severe life changing event in a person’s lifetime. The reality struck in an accelerated manner, when Jim realized that an insufficient money was remaining to support his kids. Also, during the finical misfortunes Americans lost housing capital due to other people, “The iron guard bit into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the little house from its foundation so that it fell.”(Steinbeck 38-39) Therefore, the poor farmer family lost the house, as a result of fellow Americans trying to keep their jobs. The destruction of property really played a role in the views of the tenant. The reverse term riches to rags became clearly visible to the poor man, due to the fact that a transition from having a house to having nothing occurred, Both the farmer and the famous boxer lost everything and considered the American dream to be just a fantasy at that horrifying moment. Overall losing a house and all the positions is terrifying but maintaining and adopting new values during hardships is crucial as well.
The characters developed some very unique values that usually tend to be hidden. A great deal of persistence was demonstrated by Jim, when the financial situation became unbearable, “After being a glorious boxer, Jim had to go work at the docks with a broken arm for an insufficient salary.”(Ron Howard) Thus, Jim attempted to beat all odds and feed his family and try to restore the foundation for his shaken up American dream. The occupation at the docks proved an extremely difficult challenge due to fractures in Jim’s right arm, and a lot of work was done by an untrained left. Even thought, the world appeared lightless, the boxer remained true to his family and ideals because that was literally almost all that was left after the economic depression. Furthermore, a lack of giving up was shown by the tenant, “Maybe we got to fight to keep our land like Pa and Grandpa did.”(Steinbeck 34) As a result, the farmer is prepared to pursue his specified values and keep the land, in his case the American dream away from the bank. The monster owned the land but the tenant considered the spot to be home because his relatives occupied the land even before his own family. The two characters chare the urge to protect the things that are valuable to them and to also preserve their American dream in the face if their families. Bothe the movie and the book share many unique aspects, but contrasting elements are also present between the two.
The financial position of the characters in Cinderella Man and The Grapes of Wrath differ significantly in the beginning and the end of the sources. In the first few moments of the two sources the money and capital of the farmer and Jim appear to be polar opposites. The start of the movie reveals the kind of money Braddock has, “Jim comes to a huge house in a nice three piece suit and has good food and expansive alcohol for dinner.”(Ron Howard) Therefore, as a boxer that has seen no knock outs, Jim earns a very good contract salary. The Braddock’s family feel financially stable in the American society and idealistically feel of the American dream completion. Furthermore, the farmer at the start of the chapter processed only a small house and a bug plot of unhealthy land, “Sure, cried the tenant men but it’s our land. We measure it and broke it up.”(Steinbeck 33) Thus, the farmers refused to give up the land to the bank because the plots were established and got taken care by the farmers and their families. The land is everything to the tenant men due to the fact that a lot of work and dedication was placed in the cultivation process. The American dream for the poor farmers lies within the soils of the property that they own. Overall the begging of the two sources differ a lot but the ending also provides a few major differences for the viewer.
The resulting scenes of the movie and the book demonstrate a huge variation. Towards the end of the movie Jim establishes the lost confidence, “the boxer comes back with a big win and earns $250 to push himself of the ground.”(Ron Howard) As a result, Jim gets a sufficient amount of money to pay his debts and begin building his American dream from the start. Jim never lost confidence in the government and his own ability, and with the family Jim built everything back. In the same time the farmer stares after the tool of destruction, “And all of them stared after the tractor.”(Steinbeck 39) This explains that the farmer lost the property and the legitimacy of the American dream to the bank. The moment the farmer fell into the clenches of anger and depression the losses started to occur. The farmer looks in horror as his house and life crumbles and falls right before his eyes, and the urge to fight and negotiate disappears with his house.
In the midst of the great depression many themes of the American dream got lost but also some were found. Characters from both sources experience loss, economic instability and change in inner self, but also the characters saw many different living conditions and various goals to be achieved. The application of the reality of the American dream was put to the test hundreds of times. Many Americans gave up and lost everything, however a lot also kept going and built themselves back up. Overall instances of hardships happen daily but the humans are intelligent creature, which learn to fight and overcame obstacles and pursue their dreams. All people share desires and urges to succeed, however it is up to the people to find a proper way to achieve certain goals.
The Theme of Finding Meaning Through Adversity in Black Boy by Richard Wright and the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
America: It’s Always Darkest before the Dawn’s Early Light
“Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible” (Wright 72). Richard, the protagonist in Richard Wright’s Black Boy, always thinks optimistically. Likewise, an air of faith and hope drives John Steinbeck’s Joad family through their problems on the way to California in his renowned novel titled The Grapes of Wrath. Both the Wrights and the Joads endeavor to find meaning through adversity while struggling to find economic stability, surviving, and searching for hope in a hopeless situation.
In both books, difficulty arises when attempting to obtain a consistent income. Because of this extended length of time without money, poverty devastates many lives. To temporarily escape the monster of destitution, Richard “decided to try to sell [his] dog Betsy and buy some food” (Wright 69). The fact that he was willing to sell “a man’s best friend” for only a dollar shows his desperation for cash. When the dog dies only a week later, Richard’s mother, unhappy that her son had passed up an opportunity to gain some money, reminds him, “You could have had a dollar. But you can’t eat a dead dog, can you?” (Wright 71). Richard is notorious among his friends for his inability to keep a job, as his friend Griggs tells him, “You’ve been trying to hold a job all summer, and you can’t” (Wright 183). Similarly, poverty affects the Joads, along with all migrants journeying west. They too are anxious, but any job opportunity has “five pairs of arms extended” (Steinbeck 238). The poverty found in California occurs simply because few jobs exist for the newcomers, “for wages went down and prices went up. The great owners were glad and they sent out more handbills” (Steinbeck 283). Because the wealthy farmers attract more potential workers than they can employ, the migrants face the possibilities of reduced wages or no work at all. In desperation, they turn to religion, as they “pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor. Pray God some day a kid can eat” (Steinbeck 239). In both the works of Steinbeck and Wright, characters are willing to take drastic measures to ensure the gain of land and money. Through the struggle required to meet these goals, they learn to be diligent workers that depend on each other in times of adversity.
The economic quest for jobs plays a key role in The Grapes of Wrath and Black Boy. As a young man Richard constantly searches for work, “[inquiring] among the students about jobs” (White 145). Along with food supply, work is one of the most common uncertainties in Richard’s life. Granny had already thrown out hints that it was time for me to be on my own. But what had I learned so far that would help me to make a living? Nothing” (Wright 164). Richard’s grandma slowly pushes him out of the house; however, he still does not grasp the concept of living as a black man in the south. Even when he obtains work, the southern whites place him in lose-lose situations: “If I had said: No, sir, Mr. Pease, I never called you Pease, I would by inference have been calling Reynolds a liar; and if I had said: Yes, sir, Mr. Pease, I called you Pease, I would have been pleading guilty to the worst insult that a Negro can offer…” (Wright 189). Likewise, the Joads focus solely on employment upon arriving in California because the family needs food. Luckily, Tom Joad meets people in a government camp the first morning, and they invite him to work with them: “We’re layin’ some pipe. ‘F you want to walk over with us, maybe we could get you on” (Steinbeck 291). When the Joads first arrive in California, they have “’Bout forty dollars” (Steinbeck 230). For this reason, they begin searching for work as soon as possible to replenish their funds. However, “the laboring people hated Okies because a hungry man must work, and if he must work…the wage payer automatically gives him less…and then no one can get more” (Steinbeck 233). The natives fear the migrants because they work for less money, as they are determined to buy food. Richard and the Joad family are like planets orbiting around the sun of job opportunities. Their unending search for work rewards them with vigilance, observance, and the poise to snatch a job at a moment’s notice.
Both Steinbeck and Wright place their characters in a harsh environment that requires grit and determination to survive. The Joads and the Wrights endure heartbreaking deaths and prolonged illnesses along their journeys. During a prayer, Richard hears his grandma state that her “poor old husband lies sick this beautiful morning” (Wright 138). Richard “[is] mortally afraid” of his grandfather (Wright 43), but he respectfully retracts his hostility as Grandpa mumbles his final words: “Rejoice, for God has picked out my s-s-e…in-in h-heaven…” (Wright 141). Also, Richard is forced to work harder for the family when his mother succumbs to a series of paralyzing strokes. This sudden gain of responsibility places Richard in a difficult predicament, which he describes as being “suddenly thrown emotionally upon my own” (Wright 86). Likewise, the Joads struggle through turmoil, as they lose two family members while fleeing from the ruins of their Oklahoma farm. Granpa Joad, a lively spirit, becomes sick soon after leaving his home. Casy believes that Granpa “died the minute [they] took ‘im off the place” because leaving detaches him from his land (Steinbeck 146). Soon, a “good, quick stroke” seizes his soul, and the Joads face the rest of the journey without the honorary head of the family (Steinbeck 138). Granma cannot handle the news of her husband’s passing, and she falls into a state of shock. She remains bedridden for the rest of the trip, and Mama reveals that “Granma’s dead” upon reaching California (Steinbeck 228). These two families avoid desperation, even when they seem to fall apart. Although the losses in these books are tragic, the mourning families learn to persevere.
Because poverty triggers frustration and anger within people, the characters in both Black Boy and The Grapes of Wrath fight to survive. In fact, Richard engages in combat to be accepted by his classmates at each school he attends. Any boy that bumped into him he “stood [his] ground” and “shoved him away violently” (Wright 91). While this is an ordinary schoolyard brawl, people are innocently killed in other situations. Richard’s Uncle Hoskins is “killed by whites who had long coveted his flourishing liquor business” (Wright 54). Correspondingly, the Joads are forced to deal with murder. Tom Joad keeps his record clean, as he cannot afford to return to prison: “I killed a guy. Seven years [in prison]. I’m sprung in four for keepin’ my nose clean” (Steinbeck 13). However, watching his friend Casy as “the heavy club crashed into the side of his head with a dull crunch of bone” made his blood boil (Steinbeck 386). Unable to resist the urge, he avenges the preacher, as “his crushing blow found the head” of the guilty police officer (Steinbeck 386). In both the cases of the Joads and the Wrights, difficulty equals ferocity, and ferocity equals bloodshed. These moments teach to keep a level head in times of trouble and despair.
In their darkest moments, the Wrights and the Joads look for faith in every nook and cranny, even when it seems lost. Some people take advantage of this by providing them with a false sense of hope and security. For example, when Richard’s bike gets a flat tire, white men offer him a ride, and he temporarily believes that tolerant whites exist in the south. However, when he relaxes and accidentally addresses a man casually, he feels “something hard and cold smash [him] between the eyes. It was an empty whisky bottle” (Wright 180-181). Richard eventually heads to the north, where African Americans appear to lead freer lives. “There lay a deep, emotional safety in knowing that the white girl who was now leaning carelessly against me was not thinking of me, had no deep, vague, irrational fright…” (Wright 270). While segregation rarely appears in the north, Richard finds that Negroes “must restrict [themselves]—when not engaged upon some task—to the basement corridors so that they would not mingle with white nurses, doctors, or visitors” (Wright 303). The search for hope theme in Black Boy reappears in The Grapes of Wrath. When sharecroppers are kicked off their land, they travel west, and car salesmen use a multitude of lies to make a profit: “Goin’ to California? Here’s jus’ what you need. Looks shot, but they’s thousan’s of miles in her” (Steinbeck 66). In fact, most of these jalopies break down well before reaching The Golden State. When the Joads prepare for their trek westward, “some fellas come through with han’bills—orange ones. Says they need lots a people out here to work the crops” (Steinbeck 245). However, Tom learns from a young man in Hooverville that “ever’ dam’ fam’ly seen them han’bills” (Steinbeck 245). Essentially, the farmers release handbills for more workers than they could possibly pay. In this way, they cheat the migrants, and the excess of workers allows the farmers to pay less. The Joads and the Wrights, two flustered families, fall victim to the manipulations of their opponents. These tribulations help them to avoid deception in the future.
The Wright and Joad families maintain a remarkable level of optimism, even after countless mishaps and misfortunes. As a young boy, Richard amuses himself with the fascination of superstition in times of trouble: “If I had a cold and tied a worn, dirty sock about my throat before I went to bed, the cold would be gone the next morning” (Wright 72). When he departs for the north, Richard suspects that it is too good to be true, “half expecting someone to call me back and tell me that it was all a dream” (Wright 257). Although he lies to his boss to make it appear that his behavior will remain the same, he “wanted to tell him that [he] was going north precisely to change…” (Wright 256). Similarly, the Joads sustain this positive mindset, even after being informed of the lack of work in California. Tom eradicates his mother’s worries about California by saying, “Don’t roust your faith bird-high an’ you won’t do no crawlin’ with the worms” (Steinbeck 91). Even after reaching Hooverville and being told that jobs are scarce, Tom is “jus’ gay as a toad in spring rain” (Steinbeck 249). The Joad family never fails to stay optimistic, even in their most depressing moments. After Granma’s death, they kept their focus, saying that they “got to find a place to stay. [They] got to get work an’ settle down” (Steinbeck 241). Both the Joads and the Wrights endure hazardous situations and disturbing deaths. However, both remain optimistic through these trials; therefore, they have a good mentality to assist them in overcoming difficulties.
The Joads and the Wrights become tougher and find meaning through adversity. Through their economic quest, survival, and reliance on faith, they live optimistically and are strengthened through their troubles. Both families recognize the challenge to be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong. “Goddamn it, a fella got to eat” (Steinbeck 344). These words from one of the troublemakers at the California government camp should have been Richard’s motto in Black Boy. Both the Wrights and the Joads traversed a treacherous path. However, by finding meaning through their adversity, they realize that anything is possible.
Rhetorical Analysis of Grapes of Wrath
Transitioning from one place to another can sometimes be a hassle. For example, if you are moving houses you have to pack the moving car and may forget to pack your bed the most essential item to most. Looking at the comparison between a book and a movie is a lot like from moving place to place. For example, Ford created the movie the Grapes of Wrath he forgot to add the beginning of the book that sets up the setting and environmental visual of the book. Next, everyone interprets everything differently like Ford rhetoric perspective of the book could be very different from the author of the book John Steinbeck rhetoric perspective. Personally I believe that the movie of Grapes of Wrath movie was better than the book because of the roles it showed between men and women and setting of the Dust Bowl. But one must analysis the following parts to make a final decision: the rhetorical significance of the novel, the similarities and differences between the novel and movie, and then the decision of the better of the two. First, one must view the rhetorical significance of the novel. The book demonstrated great significant value on family values.
Family values are the typical family of mom cooking and help feed and support family, grandparents providing wise and guidance, kids providing laughter and joy for the younger generation in all, and the dad supporting the family making sure nothing happens to the family and provide safety to all. This is exactly like how Steinbeck made the Joad family. The Joad family consists of Tom Joad the supportive but trouble seeker of the family, Ma Joad the caretaker and unifier of the family, Pa Joad the tenant farmer who is determined to find work and support the family, Grandpa Joad who has a deep connection the farm and is deeply sadden when the family has to move, Grandma Joad who has ever seeking aspirations to see California in it’s beautiful state, and finally Winfield Joad who is the young of the family and Ma Joad is consistently worrying about his wellbeing and growing up on a stable farm. For example Pa Joad exclaims “It’s a free country. In California they got high wages. ” ( CH 12).
This quote shows the sense of family value in the Joad family because Pa is usual supporting and having high hopes for the wellbeing of the family. Next, Steinbeck displays the role of men and women in the book very clearly and caring. First, Steinbeck creates Ma Joad as the ultimate caretaker of the family. By creating Ma this role Steinbeck takes the interpersonal relationship view of the Dust bowl to create her as women in the 1930’s. It gives the reader the knowledge and view how women acted in the 30. Also, he showed that the women’s role was to provide food, give mental support to the family, and care for all. But the mens role was very different. Steinbeck demonstrates the men’s role in Tom Joad. Tom is always looking to find a fair price for a home and safe place to live. He is always creating mischief to fight for his rights as a farmer and find a proper farming job to support the family. He consistently shows his support of the family throughout book. Lastly the most important rhetoric significance of the book is the way Steinbeck creates the setting. Steinbeck writes in Chapter 1, “The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the grey country. ” (CH 1). Steinbeck illustrates the exact setting of the book word for word. He visually creates the picture of the farm land with the thin crust resembling the hot dry soil of the farm fields and the pink sky creating a beautiful picture of the sunset or rise of the farm life. Although the rhetorical significance of the novel is a key to make a decision of the better of the two, it’s essential to compare and contrast the similarities of differences of the movie to the novel.
First, there are a lot of similarities that both the novel and movie share. Both the movie and novel show the interpersonal relationship Jim the preacher and Tom Joad. Like displayed in the movie Jim and Tom meet under the big oak tree right after Tom is released McAlester State Penitentiary. This scene takes place in chapter 4 in the book and early on in the movie. This really shows the theme that time changes people and their views. Like how Jim used to be a preacher at Tom’s church when he was a little boy and now doesn’t believe in the religion concept. Also, both movie and novel illustrate Tom has a guy who just got out of jail and is determined to provide for himself and soon his family and look at the world a little differently after his years in the jail. Next, both movie and book do an excellent job of representing the farmers and their families struggling in these hard times. Chapter 9 of the book and scene 13 demonstrates the struggle of the families most clearly. Most of the farmers are forced to pawn most of their items because they simply need the money and don’t have enough room to travel with them. All the farmers have no other option but to accept brokers who pay outrageously low wages because they are focusing on the support of structure of their family. Then, there are some major differences between the novel and the book. The movie begins with scence 1 when tom is walking along side of the road glazing at the farm fields and this is very different from the beginning of the book where it sets up the setting. Having Tom walk along the road in the movie I think sets up the movie. It shows the audience the setting of the and the condition of the farm. It gives the audience the view of character value placed on Tom during the movie.
Also, by having Tom walk in at the beginning of the movie shows the importance of males in the farming life. Next, the book opens with Chapter1 describing the setting of the book and giving the audience a mental picture of where the story will take place and in the movie it does not show this at all. I believe chapter is very important to add in a story line. This chapter sets up the whole book for the audience. For example this quote from the book displays some of the setting, “ In the middle of that night the wind passed and left the land quiet. The dust-filled air muffled sound more completely then fog. ” (CH 1) This really encompasses the meaning of the land and the rough damage wind and dry soil can do to the family’s living conditions. Although the similarities and differences of the novel and movie are important the most essential part is which of these provide the greater effect on people. I believe the movie is better than the book. I think this because of the visual effect of the movie. I am a visual person so the movie connected with me. The movie showed great emotions of all the people. It was very clear the attitude of Ma Joad after scene 12 when grandma dies. Ma is fed up with everything and just wants a home for the family and wants everyone to be safe and happy. Next the movie really captures the audience with the setting. The setting really connected with me because it’s the base of every story. I thought Ford did an excellent job displaying the fields and showing how the wind overtook the land. Also, I like the dusty environment and the emphasize on the cars Ford showed. He showed the value of cars a lot in their society.
The cars were like the building blocks for their life. The Joad family would have never thrived without the car taking them to each farm looking for work and sustainable housing. Next, the I’ll be there speech in the movie delivered by Tom puts the message of the movie into play ( SC 23). He states he that he needs to leave to provide his family with safety. He says he will be there in spirit where ever the family travels. Finally, I feel that in rhetoric value that the movie was better than the book because it depicts the emotions of the characters, the basic needs of the setting of the story, the value of cars during the dustbowl, and finally the spirit and passion Tom displays for his family throughout the book. In conclusion, the movie is better than the book. I decided on this claim by reviewing the rhetorical analysis of the novel, similarities and differences of the novel and movie, and the rhetorical explanation of how the movie is better than the novel.
So, why watch the movie one may ask, simply because it best describes the effects of the dust bowl on farmers and the connection of these families at these hard times. Comparing a book and movie is key to looking effects and different viewpoints of people. This analysis and show us why something is said or why there is importance on a certain part of a scene. Finally, the analysis of the novel of Grapes of Wrath and the movie display the importance of character relationship, setting, and value of items in a society.
Characters Of Jim Casy And Tom Joad In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath follows a poor family of Oklahoma tenant farmers, the Joads, who migrate to California to pursue a better future. The novel’s protagonist, Tom Joad, is shown to be a man who likes to keep himself anchored to the present. He avoids thinking about anything that has no immediate effect upon himself or his family. But Tom’s early characterization clashes with the person he becomes by the end of the novel. Tom develops into a social activist, ready to fight for the rights of the wandering laborers in California. This change is brought about by his interactions with one of the other major characters in the story, Jim Casy. And it is largely Casy’s death that causes Tom to rise above the boundaries he had first set for himself. Tom eventually follows in Casy’s footsteps by becoming a social activist. Jim Casy’s character and death are important to understand the development of Tom Joad.
Tom Joad undergoes a significant transformation over the course of the novel. Early on the reader learns that Tom spent four years in jail for homicide. Released on parole, he hitchhikes home to his family. Tom unashamedly tells the man he rides with what he had done: “Means I killed a guy. Seven years. I’m sprung in four for keepin’ my nose clean”. Tom also meets Jim Casy, a former preacher, during his journey homewards. When his past is brought up in conversation with Casy, Tom speaks of the crime he committed very similarly to the way he had described it to the driver he hitchhiked with. “I’d do what I done — again. . . I killed a guy in a fight. We was drunk at a dance. He got a knife in me, an’ I killed him with a shovel that was layin’ there”. Tom’s lack of remorse is justified in that it was self-defense. But it is his inability to be ashamed or reflective at all that is indicative of someone who lives only in the present. His desire to avoid looking too deeply into the past or future is shown in his response to a question of Casy’s concerning the number of jobs available in California: “How’d I know? I’m jus’ puttin’ one foot in front a the other. . . This here little piece of iron an’ babbitt. See it? Ya see it? Well, that the only goddamn thing in the world I got on my mind”. Tom later breaks his parole to travel west with his family. This action also shows his disregard for any future consequences.
Jim Casy is the reverse of Tom Joad’s initial characterization. While Tom concerns himself only with the now, Casy constantly looks towards the future, often puzzling over the state of humanity and divinity. Casy’s overall thoughtfulness is illustrated well by a theological theory of his: “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”. But his tendency for future thought is not what separates him from Tom. It is his moral character and selflessness that distinguishes him from any other person in the novel. When Tom gets into an altercation with a deputy, Casy takes the blame, telling an officer that he had “knocked out your man there”. This brief moment shows the difference between the men well. Tom, giving into a moment of passion, does not think of the consequences his possible arrest would have on his family or himself. Casy, on the other hand, realizes the gravity of the situation immediately. He understands Tom’s importance to his family: “Somebody got to take the blame. I got no kids. They’ll jus’ put me in jail, an’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ but set aroun’”. Casy’s morality and concern for the future contrasts heavily with the early characterization of Tom Joad.
Tom Joad’s interactions with Jim Casy are vital in understanding his change as a character. Towards the beginning of the story, Tom is shown to care only for his family and the people in his immediate surroundings. But his way of thinking changes drastically by the end of the story. He sheds this day by day philosophy and gains a new sense of purpose: the betterment of the lives of the western migrants. Tom tells his mother that he’ll “be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there”.
This change was brought about by the teachings of Casy. Casy, during his time in jail, learns about the power of mobilization of popular support. With this realization, he begins to organize migrants workers for a wage protest. Tom later stumbles into Casy and his band of men, where he learns about Casy’s time in jail. “Well, one day they give us some beans that was sour. One fella started yellin’, an’ nothin’ happened. . . Then another fella yelled. . . By God! Then sompin happened! They come a-runnin’, and they give us some other stuff to eat”. After their brief conversation, the men spot flashlight beams, and two policemen approach them, recognizing Casy as the workers’ leader. Casy protests that the men “don’ know what you’re doin’. You’re helpin’ to starve kids”. In the middle of his protest, one of the policemen sinks a pick handle into Casy’s skull, killing him instantly. This moment serves as the catalyst for Tom’s change from content bystander to activist.
After Casy is attacked, Tom retaliates and kills one of the policeman. The killing of a police officer, although immoral, is still a far cry from the drunken murder that had landed him in prison four years earlier. Here, by standing up for the rights of the western migrants, he begins to fight for a cause far greater than just himself or his family. In effect, Tom is taking Casy’s place. Surely, his methods are different (he is far more confrontational and unpredictable), but he is now fighting for the same goal as Casy: equality for the suffering laborers. Tom even ascribes his change in character to Casy himself: “God, I’m talkin’ like Casy. Comes of thinkin’ about him so much. Seems like I can see him sometimes”. And when his mother asks him what he plans to do with himself, Tom replies that he will do “what Casy done”. At this point, Tom’s characterization has taken a complete 180. He is prepared to take Casy’s place and fight for better conditions, not only for his own family, but for all other migrant families in California.
In The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad is introduced as a former convict who lives by a day-to-day philosophy, concerning himself only with the wellbeing of himself and his family. Tom’s character differs heavily from another major character in the novel: Jim Casy. Casy, unlike Tom, cannot help but speculate about the future. He often thinks about the conditions of the migrant laborers and eventually leads a wage protest. Casy serves as the impetus for Tom Joad’s major transformation, from that of a somewhat selfish family man to social activist. And Casy’s final moments, in particular, are important to understand the radical changes seen in Tom. His death leads Tom to kill a police officer. This brash act of violence, possibly born out of rage, finally shows Tom stand up for something bigger than himself. In the end, Tom picks up where Casy left off, ready to lead a life of public action.