Essay PreviewMore ↓
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath chronicles the destruction and chaos of the lives of the dust bowl victims and their families. The classic novel works on two levels. On the one hand, it is the story of a family, how it reacts, and how it is unsettled by a serious problem threatening to overwhelm it. On the other hand, the story is an appeal to political leaders that when the common working-class is put upon too harshly, they will revolt. In this aspect it is a social study which argues for a utopia-like society where the powerful owners of the means of production will be replaced by a more communal and egalitarian community like the ones that spring up along the highway by the migrants seeking a higher ground. Their lives are destroyed by poverty and the dust bowl and all that matters is finding a more decent life somewhere west. Survival and getting to a new kind of life are all that matter, so much so that Ma lies next to a dead Granma all night because she is afraid the family will not get through is she seeks help "I was afraid we wouldn' get acrost,' she said. 'I tol' Granma we couldn' he'p her. The fambly had ta get acrost. I tol' her, tol' her when she was a-dyin'. We couldn' stop in the desert...The fambly hadda get acrost,' Ma said miserably" (Steinbeck 237). Throughout the novel the lure of communism lurks subtly in the background as a reminder that in desperate circumstances, pushed too far, the people will revolt.
The Grapes of Wrath depicts the degradations and abject poverty visited upon immigrants who try to survive in the face of American capitalism where the powerful land-owning companies force them into constant migration and keep them from rising above a poverty level of less than basic sustenance. The novel focuses on the sacrifices these individuals make for each other, family and friends, and the way their simple lives are inherently worthy of dignity and respect. However, in the midst of the thousands of others traveling the concrete highway barely keeping body and soul together on the road to a better promise of life in California, these immigrants form a utopia-like community. Society is recreated each evening among the migrants, where social leaders are picked, unspoken rules of privacy and generosity emerge, and lust, violence and murder breakout.
How to Cite this Page
"Grapes of Wrath Essay: Steinbeck's Faulty Logic." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A clear concept in John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath was the way families were run. At the beginning of the twentieth century, men led the family. They made the decisions and they made the money for the family while the women worked behind the scenes and kept everything going. What the men did not realize, or did not want to recognize, was that the women were the ones who were really in control. Though they did not take credit for it, they were the ones who bought and cooked the food the men ate, bore and reared the children the men helped create, and did everything they could to make a better life for themselves and their families.... [tags: John Steinbeck, Grapes Of Wrath,]
1054 words (3 pages)
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck What does it take for one to achieve the American dream. What kinds of struggles does one need to overcome to achieve their goals in life. In the classic novel The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, you can follow the Joad family in the pursuit to their dreams and the difficulties they faced and overcame. The Joad family faced numerous conflicts including; men, society, nature, and him/herself but overcame many to keep pushing them towards their dream; to go to California and find a better life.... [tags: Steinbeck Grapes Wrath]
1007 words (2.9 pages)
- John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Throughout his book, the Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck employs the principles of Foucault’s theory that power exists as a result of consent. This is particularly the case in the relations between the Joad family. Chapter ten includes specific scenes in which the family members’ assumed positions of power are focused on and explained. When Jim Casy asks if he can accompany the Joads on their migratory trip to California, Ma looks to Tom to speak, “because he [is] a man”.... [tags: John Steinbeck Grapes Wrath Essays]
512 words (1.5 pages)
- The Power of The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck has become one of my favorite writers -- for the love he has for his characters, the loveliness of his language, and the clear-eyed conviction with which he writes. Originally, I failed to see the beauty in Steinbeck's people, though it is plainly there. Perhaps I hadn't seen enough of the world myself, yet. There was a lot I didn't understand about people. What Steinbeck does so well is to show people's struggle for simple human decency in the face of meanness and ignorance.... [tags: The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck]
1104 words (3.2 pages)
- Biblical Allusion in The Grapes of Wrath A popular literary technique that can be found in a number of literary works is the biblical allusion. John Steinbeck perfects this technique in his novel The Grapes of Wrath by introducing a character who is symbolic of Jesus Christ. This character, Jim Casy, not only shares initials with this biblical figure, but he also grows thoughout the novel as a speaker, a mediator, an organizer, and, most remarkably, a martyr. At the advent of the novel, Jim Casy is quick to protest that he is no longer a preacher. Nevertheless, evidence of his innate speaking ability is brought forth when he explains his thoughts and ideas to Tom. For example, Casy re... [tags: The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck]
432 words (1.2 pages)
- The Powerful Images of The Grapes of Wrath In the Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck has achieved an interesting effect by breaking the narrative at intervals with short, impressionistic passages recorded as though by a motion picture camera moving quickly from one scene to another and from one focus to another. The novel is a powerful indictment of our capitalistic economy and a sharp criticism of the southwestern farmer for his imprudence in the care of his land. The outstanding feature of the Grapes of Wrath is its photographically detailed, if occasionally sentimentalized description of the American farmers of the Dust Bowl in the midthirties of the twentieth century.... [tags: The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck]
999 words (2.9 pages)
- The Great Depression and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Though most Americans are aware of the Great Depression of 1929, which may well be "the most serious problem facing our free enterprise economic system", few know of the many Americans who lost their homes, life savings and jobs. This paper briefly states the causes of the depression and summarizes the vast problems Americans faced during the eleven years of its span. This paper primarily focuses on what life was like for farmers during the time of the Depression, as portrayed in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and tells what the government did to end the Depression.... [tags: John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath]
1699 words (4.9 pages)
- The Power of Religion in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck's epic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, chronicles the struggles of the Joads as they join the thousands of fellow "Okies" in a mass migration westward. The Joads reluctantly leave behind their Oklahoma farm in search of work and food in California. While Steinbeck writes profoundly and emotionally about the political problems of the Great Depression, his characters also show evidence of a deep concern with spirituality. When they feel hopeless and are uncertain about their immediate future, their concentration on religion dwindles.... [tags: The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck]
2419 words (6.9 pages)
- Ma Joad in the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck In the 1930s, America’s Great Plains experienced a disastrous drought causing thousands of people to migrate west. As their land was devastated by the Dust Bowl, deprived farmers were left with few options but to leave. The Grapes of Wrath depicts the journey of the Joads, an Oklahoma based family which decides to move to California in search of better conditions.... [tags: Grapes Wrath Steinbeck]
1030 words (2.9 pages)
- Symbols and Symbolism in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath is extremely complex, with many images drawn from the Old and New Testaments. However, Steinbeck as usual was eclectic in his use of symbols, and a great deal of the novel is given to either pagan and universal archetypes, or to highly original meanings unique to the author's own vision and experience. While acknowledging the Judeo-Christian content, these other symbols are just as important, and an exploration into their use in Steinbeck's work, reveal their real significance.... [tags: Grapes Wrath essays Steinbeck Essays]
2001 words (5.7 pages)
The communal, decent, and sacrificing lives of the migrants are portrayed against a backdrop of harsh, powerful, and distant wealthy company owners who mercilessly lord over the migrants with blindness to their woes. The socialist or communist view is presented as a means of providing a better lifestyle for the migrants who not only must constantly migrate because of the power company owners, but they also are forced to work for practically nothing because the land-owners have so many migrants to choose from they use coercion to keep employers from paying any higher wages. As Thomas explains to Timothy about a reduction in wages "Do you know who runs the Farmers' Association? I'll tell you. The Bank of the West. That bank owns most of this valley, and it's got paper on everything it don't own. So last night the member from the bank told me, he said, 'You're paying thirty cents an hour. You'd better cut it down to twenty-five.' I said, 'I've got good men. They're worth thirty.' And he says, 'It isn't that,' he says. 'The wage is twenty-five now'" (Steinbeck 306).
Thus, there is no way these migrant workers can ever gain some measure of lifestyle when they are continually oppressed by those who own the means of production. It is a very Marxian critique of capitalist society. In contrast to such a society, Steinbeck gives us his utopia view of the "good life" which involves equality and justice for all human beings, a decent level of wages, and a sense of the inherent dignity in all human beings who must sacrifice and struggle together for the good of all. We see this value most inherently embedded in the character of Ma who not only lies with her dead mother all night long to insure the family will get across, but she also sacrifices the small rations scraped together for her own family to help others, like when she feeds the hungry camp children her stew "'There ain't enough,' she said humbly. 'I'm a-gonna set this here kettle out, an' you'll all get a little tas', but it ain't gonna do you no good.' She faltered, 'I can't he'p it. Can't keep it from you'" (Steinbeck 267).
In conclusion, Steinbeck's appeal for a socialist or communist utopia is a genuine sentiment and based on his honest emotion and feeling for decent, oppressed, working-class individuals in society. However, he fails to understand that the system of communism or socialism that he advocates is as flawed as the system of capitalism he appears to disdain. We have seen the dismantling of communist states not because communism in its ideal sense is flawed, but because those who control the means of production in communist states rarely do so for the benefit of the working-class. Even Lenin only cared about the needs and feelings of the working-class so he could use it as motivation and impetus to bring about his own self-interested aims. Thus, despite Steinbeck's plea for a more utopian and humanitarian class-structure than capitalism, his call for socialism or communism fails to consider the equally unjust flaws of those systems of socioeconomic politics.
Steinbeck, J. The Grapes of Wrath. New York, International Collectors Library, 1967.