The Grapes of Wrath Book Report
The Exposition of The Grapes of Wrath takes place in 1939 in Oklahoma when the dust bowl was occuring. It begins on the Joad family farm as they prepare to head to California before the conditions of the dust bowl get worse. The setting is very significant to the story because the dust bowl made it hard for people to live in Oklahoma. Page 17 states, “ Joad took a few steps, and the flourlike dust spurted up in front of his new yellow shoes, and the yellowness was disappearing under the gray dust. ” The dust bowl drove many people from Oklahoma to move out west, as conditions were not conducive to farming. Characterization: There are 3 main characters involved in the Grapes of Wrath. Ma Joad: Ma Joad is the matriarch of the family. She cooks dinner, tells the men what to do, does the laundry and goes shopping. She didn’t want the men to have anything to do with food preparation and threw a fit when the men tried to salt cure the pork. Ma is a very strong character as she kept the knowledge that grandma had passed before they made it to California. Ma frequently told the family what to do. When they were at Weedpatch government camp, she decided the family was going to go north towards Tulare to pick cotton. Ma is a very important character throughout the entire book.
Tom Joad: Tom Joad, known throughout the book as, “Joad,” started off the book as just paroling from 4 years in prison and is trying to make his way home. When he went over the hill to go the Joad farm, he saw that they were leaving. He decided to go up and surprise the family with a visit, and they told him they were going to California. He decided to go along and to avoid being caught again. Towards the end of the story, Joad was walking along the river and found a homeless encampment. In that encampment, he finds Jim Casy, the preacher in the novel. While Joad and Jim were talking, the property owner came with a pick-axe struck Jim Casy in the head and killed him. Joad went and told Ma that he had found Jim Casy, but now deceased, the police were looking for Joad for being suspected of the murder of Jim Casy. Joad went and hid in some blackberry bushes to stay hidden from the police. Pa Joad: Pa Joad is head of the family. He planned out the whole trip to move to California. As Pa got older, he tried his best to maintain his position of family leader, but he wasn’t able to do what he used to. He was complaining of “muddled” thoughts and had difficulty deciding in troubled situations, such as, whether to go north to Tulare or stay in Weedpatch camp. When they go north towards Tulare, they get a flat tire and a man tells them about work just ahead. When they leave Cooper farms to pick cotton, they hit a severe rainstorm and Pa shows his commitment to the family by building a dam to stop the river from overflowing.
Elements of plot: As this story starts off, we are introduced to Tom Joad. He is hitchhiking a ride with a delivery man to make his way home from prison and he finds that his family is packing up to move to California. They told Tom that they looked for work and couldn’t find any work, so they hoped California would have some work for them. After the long journey finally ended, they looked up from the top of a hill and looked down over the San Joaquin Valley and they were speechless because it was so beautiful. When they got work picking cotton in Tulare, Tom Joad witnessed Jim Casy be killed by the property owner and in turn, Tom kills one of the property owners assistant’s. Tom now has to hide because he became a wanted man by the law for the murder. Right at the end of the story, a huge rainstorm hits the cotton plantation and the Joad’s are forced to move, but the car was broken and wouldn’t start. The family choose to go to higher ground to stay away from the flooding river caused by the rain. They come across a vacant barn and they head inside. In the corner, there is an older man who was dying of starvation, and Ma forced Rose of Sharon to give the man some milk to save his life. He smiled mysteriously.
Reader’s Response: The part of, “The Grapes of Wrath,” that was most interesting to me was pages 165-185. On 165, their car engine started to rattle out in the middle of nowhere. I found this interesting because that car is their only way to California, and they need that car to make it there. Luckily, there was a junkyard just ahead. The man running the junkyard said take what you want because he disliked his boss and wanted revenge. They took the part, put it in their car, payed for it and then they were on their way again. This sparks my interest because they didn’t have a reliable car that will get them all the way to California, but they were so desperate to get to California. They risked going in the unreliable car. Theme: One major theme in The Grapes of Wrath is family and sticking together in times of desperation. I can relate to this theme because my family teams up and we get necessary tasks completed faster by helping each other. The Joad family is the same way in helping each other complete jobs. For example, trimming our bushes/trees is easier when everyone helps. Knowledge:
- Bemused(V): Puzzled, confused, or bewildered After a while, the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant.
- Insinuation(N): An unpleasant hint or suggestion of something bad. His voice had the same quality of secrecy and insinuation his eyes had
- Sparse(Adj): Thinly dispersed or scattered The willows of a stream lined across the west, and to the northwest a fallow section was going back to sparse brush.
- Beseech(V): Ask urgently and fervently to do something. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land.
- Jalopy(N): An old car in a dilapidated condition. Get ‘em in a car. Start them at 200 and work down. They look good for one and a quarter. Get ‘em rolling. Get ‘em out in a jalopy.
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