Many of the events in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck do not result in the expected manner. Although the Joads seem to be traveling in hope, irony seems to conquer several situations. There are three types of irony: in dramatic irony, the reader sees the characters mistakes, but not the character. In verbal irony, the author means something rather than what is said. Irony of situation is when there is a paradox between the purpose of an action and its result. By observing several situations during the novel, such as the events of the Weedpatch Camp, the death of Casey, and Chapter 29, much irony can be distinguished.
During the stay of the Joads in the Weedpatch Camp, there exist groups of people condemning others of sin. This includes Elizabeth Sandry and the Jesus-lovers. For example, Ms. Sandry speaks to Rose of Sharon about her baby as live tumor. Instead of congratulating the young woman of her child, the dysfunctional lady accuses the innocent girl of sin. In addition, Ms. Sandry explains that if evil continues, her baby will be a miscarriage like several other mothers. The words of the dark old woman are ironic to the situation because it is unusual for a person to curse a pregnant woman. Therefore, dramatic irony explains the words of misery instead of love. Furthermore, similar people called Jesus-lovers search for sin during the many dances of the Weedpatch Camp. These dances are supposed to be times of relaxation and fun. Instead the Jesus-lovers search for the opposite:
"In front of the tents the Jesus-lovers sat and watched, their faces hard and contemptuous. They did not speak to one another, they watched for sin, and their faces condemne...
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...they were hit, they sand tiredly in the mud." (592)
Steinbeck the scientist is able to implement to the readers the suffering and destruction of the rain.
Irony in the Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, is presented in the unexpected events of the migrants. Even though the Joads seem to reach their destination, it is ironic how the depression continues in the promised land of California. Although happiness and goodness is sought, the opposite exists among the peoples, whether it is Elizabeth Sandry, the Jesus-lovers, or a destructive rainstorm. In the case of the storm, it is verbally ironic in the bible how God promises to never destroy His creation ever again. Yet, Steinbeck probably has his own reasons for revealing the connotation of this second flood.
The Grapes of Wrath
by: John Steinbeck
Penguin Books USA inc. 1992.
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