When Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, our country was just starting to recover from The Great Depression. The novel he wrote, though fiction, was not an uncommon tale in many lives. When this book was first published, the majority of those reading it understood where it was coming from-they had lived it. But now very few people understand the horrors of what went on in that time. The style in which Steinbeck chose to write The Grapes of Wrath helps get across the book's message.
Early in the 1930's Steinbeck wrote, "The trees and the muscled mountains are the world-but not the world apart from man-the world and man-the one inseparable unit man and his environment. Why they should ever have been understood as being separate I do not know." Steinbeck strove to reconnect them, and it shows in his writing. Intermixed with the plot are corollary chapters. The purpose of the corollary chapters is to put the events of the story in perspective to the circumstances of the country, so everyone would be able to understand the context of the book. The corollary chapters tell little pieces of the "common story", the story held in common. They don't give specifics-they give generalities. The first chapter gives the background to all of the following events. Every-other chapter gives more background to the story. Whether a massive draught causes this migration of people from the Midwest, or all the families get told to get off of the land, or all the migrants are starving; the chapters tell how all of this happened.
Not only does Steinbeck tell his story and put it in perspective, he also gives social commentary. One might expect this social commentary to be...
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...h at the idea of carrying a new life, as well as saving an older life-when aspects of her maternity give life.
The various writing techniques that Steinbeck used in the Grapes of Wrath brought out the message he wanted to get across. The corollary chapters put the story in perspective, helping the reader understand the context of the events. The two types of social commentary gave each of them added weight. And finally, the use of repetition gave the whole book a sense of continuity.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Noble, Donald R. ed. The Steinbeck Question: New Essays in Criticism. Troy, New York, 1993.
Pipher, Mary. Reviving Ophelia. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Books, 1930.
Wyatt, David ed. New Essays on The Grapes of Wrath. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
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