Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad relationship with Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

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In 1995, Bruce Springsteen produced an album titled “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. Its title track brings out a lot of ideas from John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Migrant workers, as explained in chapter twenty three of The Grapes of Wrath, used music as a main source of entertainment. They would play the harmonica, the guitar, and the fiddle, while the other workers would dance and be jolly, despite how bad the work was that day. The instrumentals of the song are harmonica and acoustic guitar. This helps to bring out both the theme of the song and the ideas from the book.

The seventh line of the song is “Families sleepin' in their cars in the southwest” (The Ghost of Tom Joad 1995). In the book, while the families were driving through the southwest to find better jobs in California, some families were only able to sleep in their cars. Most families could barely afford the cars they were traveling in, let alone a nice place to stay along their journey.

The eighth line is, “No home no job no peace no rest” (The Ghost of Tom Joad 1995). These eight word phrase says a lot. The migrant workers had no home, at least not a stable one. This was because they had no steady job. They were never really at peace with themselves, for they could not forgive themselves for leaving their land in Oklahoma. They had trouble getting rest because they were always so hungry. This one line almost completely sums up the lives of the migrant workers characterized in this novel.

The next two lines, “The highway is alive tonight, But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes” (The Ghost of Tom Joad 1995), are talking about Route 66. This highway is the one that all of the Okies traveled on to get to Califo...

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...e." (The Ghost of Tom Joad 1995)

This final verse explains what Tom says when he is leaving the family so that they don’t have an extra mouth to feed. When he leaves, after killing a second man, he tells his mom that he plans to carry on Casy’s plans of unionization. He says that he will be everywhere that the migrant farm workers, his people, are starving and being treated unfairly.

I believe it is obvious that Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath greatly influenced Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad. There is much evidence to prove it. Even the title of the song proves it. There is no way that u can say there is no connection between the two wonderful works of art.

Works Consulted

Springsteen, Bruce. "The Ghost of Tom Joad." By Bruce Springsteen. Rec. 1995. The

Ghost of Tom Joad.

Steinbeck, John. New York, New York: Penguin Classics, 1939.

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