The Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck Essay

The Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck Essay

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In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck depicts the combined forces of nature and capitalism leading to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. During the 1930’s severe droughts and dust storms in the Great Plains forced a mass Exodus-like migration. In the novel, Steinbeck effectively presents the isolated struggles of one family, the Joads, while also relating them to the widespread social upheaval of the time. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck uses biblical allusions in order to instill in his readers the value of selflessness, the necessity of anger, and the inhumanity of capitalism.
With the use of biblical references throughout the novel, Steinbeck argues that selflessness is essential for the existence of humanity. In the beginning, after they are forced from their home, the Joads receive little to no kindness from anyone, until they run into the Wilsons. Sairy and Ivy Wilson are struggling just as much as the Joads, however they are quick to “tell ‘em welcome” (Steinbeck, 135) and offer hospitality. The Wilsons are a direct allusion to Abraham and Sarah in the Bible who, likewise, offer hospitality to strangers. In the Bible, the strangers are actually angels who then thank Sarah and bless her with fertility. Steinbeck signifies the importance of selflessness by alluding to the angels’ blessing through the Joads’ similar offer of assistance. Steinbeck is implying that like Sarah, because of their selflessness, the Wilsons are blessed with the hope of life in the form of companionship and assistance from the Joads. In addition, Steinbeck alludes to the actions of Jesus Christ through the character, Jim Casy. In the Bible, Jesus Christ performs the ultimate act of selflessness by sacrificing his life for the sake of ...


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...(448). Through this scene, Steinbeck implies that capitalism, by promoting prioritizing money over the wellbeing of the people, is the cause of the baby’s death. He argues that capitalism promotes gaining profit by means of exploiting of the purest form of life. By alluding to the Bible, Steinbeck argues that supporting capitalism not only encourages its horrific effects, but it also goes against Christian ideals.
Steinbeck includes numerous biblical allusions in The Grapes of Wrath in order to bring light the withering away of humanity through the corrupt system of capitalism. Rather than focusing on the power of God, Steinbeck uses on the Bible’s messages to portray the power of the people, to encourage the restoration of humanity through acts of kindness and to call on the oppressed to collectively use their anger to create a revolution in order to better society.

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