Grapes Of Wrath

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The tale of The Grapes of Wrath has many levels of profound themes and meanings to allow us as the reader to discover the true nature of human existence. The author's main theme and doctrine of this story is that of survival through unity. While seeming hopeful at times, this book is more severe, blunt, and cold in its portrayl of the human spirit. Steinbeck's unique style of writing forms timeless and classic themes that can be experienced on different fronts by unique peoples and cultures of all generations. From a more romantic perspective one might be inclined to say the main theme behind this story is choices made by man as a unit when obstacles and circumstances arise, perhaps perseverance through hardship. But this book rarely displays romantic or idealistic interactions among the characters or moments in the plot. Although there is one example of slight romantisicm at end, the book for the most part is an excellent illustration of naturalism in a piece of literature. To shine this main theme under a naturalistic light, the reader must be allowed to examine the deep psychological, emotional and physical connection between man and his land so often demonstrated and greatly emphaisized throughout the book. The cliffsnotes state that this connection is a basic fundament to the Jeffersonian agrarian theory. A great example of when Steinbeck incorporates this philosophy is when the representatives of the bank are telling the tenant farmers that they need to get off the land. They feel that since they lived and died on the land, it is rightfully theirs. "Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is in him, it's part of him, and it's like him (37)." Since the bond between the farmer and his property is so strong, once it is broken the people loose their self-respect, dignity, and meaning. Steinbeck uses this idea to foreshadow and help explain the events of Grandpa's death and to further drive the ideas Casy preaches. Casy suggests at the funeral that Granpa died the moment he was torn from his land. He also speculates that only if the band together and make sacrifices for the unit, the Joads and the Wilsons can they survive. "We on'y got a hundred an' fifty dollars. They take forty to bury Grampa an' we won't get to California (140)." They decide that for the family the best thing to do is to bury him on the road.

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