Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Essay

Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Essay

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Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


Through such hardships as the Depression, the Dust Bowl summers, and trying to provide for their own families, which included the search for a safe existence, we find the story of the Joad's. The Joad's are the main family in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, which he created to give voice to the hundreds of families that found themselves at their absolute rock bottom during the Great Depression of the 20th Century in America.
It wouldn't have been enough for Steinbeck to simply document the strife that faced these families in very plain terms, for anyone could have simply logged an account of events and published it. Rather, he needed to draw us in with emotional content, to do these families justice. Critics have argued that Steinbeck was too artificial in his ways of trying to gain some respect for the migrants. But, regardless of the critical opinions, John Steinbeck utilized 3 profound areas of symbolism as a forum to convey the spirits and attitudes of the citizens of America, who in his eyes, it seems, faced the worst of The Grapes of Wrath.
The first aspect of the novel that must be looked at when screening its symbolic content, is that of the characters created by Steinbeck and how even the smallest facets of their personalities lead to a much larger implication for the reader. The first goal Steinbeck had in mind was to appeal to the common Midwesterner of that era. The best way to go about doing this was to use religion and hardship, two categories equally entrenched in the mores of that time. He creates a story about the journey of a specific family, the Joad's, and mirrors it to that of biblical events. Each family group throughout the nov...


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...la: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962

De Schweinitz, George Steinbeck and Christianity pp.103-104
Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1958

Dougherty, Charles T. The Christ Figure in The Grapes of Wrath pp.115-118
New York: R.D.M. Corporation, 1962

French, Warren The Education of the Heart pp.204-208
New York: Grove Press, 1961

Isherwood, Christopher The Tragedy of Eldorado pp.76-79
Pacific Historical Review VIII, 1939

McElderry Jr., B.R. The Grapes of Wrath: In the Light of Modern Critical Theory pp.126-133
New York: Macmillian, 1944

Shockley, Martin Christian Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath pp.90-95
Antioch Review XVIII, 1956

Sillen, Samuel Censoring The Grapes of Wrath pp.3-7
Los Angeles: Haynes Corporation, 1939

Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath
New York: Tedlock and Wicker, 1939


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