Grapes of Wrath Essay: Steinbeck's Use of Interchapters

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The Use of Interchapters in The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck's, The Grapes of Wrath, is a narrative about the travel of the Joad family from Oklahoma to California. However, between many of the narrative chapters, Steinbeck inserts interchapters, which interrupt the flow of the narrative to provide the author's commentary. This technique is very effective because the interchapters create an image of the economic and social history that impact the story. They provide a broad picture of what is happening to the mass of migrants traveling to California on Route 66. Without the interchapters, the reader would be given a limited view of how life was for the migrants, and Stienbeck would not have been able to provide very effective commentary.

Steinbeck uses some of the interchapters to set the tone and mood of the novel and to depict the life of the migrants that had to travel down Route 66 in the 1930's. For example, Steinbeck writes chapter seven using a newsreel technique. By using small pieces of spoken conversation, and half-thoughts, Steinbeck is able to create a mood of confusion and chaos. He creates an image of how the migrants were taken advantage of and gives the reader an impression of the hard times many of the migrants had to face.

In addition, chapter five creates a clear image of the devastation that the farmers faced and their hatred for the "monster" bank. This interchapter allows the reader to experience the passion that the farmers have toward the land and the choices they had to make concerning betrayal of their own people. It presents the reader with a broad prospective of what is happening to the tenant farmers before ...

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...the same position and because they know that they can depend on one another they realize the need of family and unity to get through hard times. Without interchapters that give Steinbeck's own commentary on the subjects, the novel would lack the social background that gives the reader insight into the lives of those affected by the Dust Bowl and would not allow the reader to feel sorrow for the migrants.

The interchapters are very effective because they provide the reader with a clear image of what is happening physically, mentally, and emotionally to the migrants as they travel to California. Without the interchapters, the reader would not be able to fully understand the hardships these people faced and Stienbeck would not have been able to give his insightful commentary.
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