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Essay/Term paper: The grapes of wrath

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath was written by John

Steinbeck, in 1929. Steinbeck was born on

February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California.

Steinbeck did not like to narrate any of his

novels in which he had no background

information in. That is why he would often

live the life of his characters before he

wrote his novels or short stories. So in

preparation for The Grapes of Wrath he went

to Oklahoma, joined some migrants and rode

with them to California.

The Grapes of Wrath starts with Tom Joad, the

main character, hitchhiking a ride home after

being paroled from the state prison. The

reason he was in jail is because four years

ago he got into a bar fight and killed a man

out of self defense. That is why he only got

a seven-year sentence. He gets a ride from a

trucker who drops him off in front of the

road that leads to his house. Tom starts

walking toward his house when he comes along

a man named Jim Casy, who used to be a

preacher. Casy tells Tom that he doesn"t

preach anymore because he has lost the call.

He says that all things are holy, so why

should he preach when the people are holy and

he can just be with the holy people. Then

Casy joins Tom on the way to his house. When

they get to the house, they find that it is

deserted. They can"t imagine why, when they

see something. They see Muley Graves, an old

crazy neighbor of the Joad family. Muley

tells them that his family went to their

Uncle John"s house. So Tom and Casy sleep in

the fields for the night and then walk to

Uncle John"s in the morning.

When they get there, they notice everyone

getting ready to leave. The family explains

to Tom that the banks and large companies

closed out all the farms and most of the

farmers are heading out to California to find

work. The family sold all their belongings

and got a total of eighteen dollars for them.

Casy then joins them because he says he has

to be where the people are. Then when they

are ready to leave, Grandpa Joad has a fit

and the family has to drug him to calm him

down. So they leave Uncle John"s for

California. On the first night of the

journey, Grandpa has a stroke and dies. They

bury him and help a family named the Wilsons

fix their broken-down car. The Joads and

Wilsons travel to California together and

when they get to California, Mrs. Wilson gets

sick and has to stop the trip. The Joads give

the Wilsons some money and then leaves them.

En route to California, Grama Joad had gotten

sicker and sicker. When they get to the great

desert at night, Ma Joad notices that Grama

is dying. Ma tells Grama that the family

won"t survive if they have to stop in the

desert, and that they have to make it across.

Then Grama dies. When they get to a guard

station, Grama is already dead, but Ma tells

the guards that Grama needs to get to a

doctor quickly, and the guards let them go.

Once across the desert Ma tells everyone that

Grama died, and they leave her to be buried,

because they have no money.

Then the family gets to a camp for migrants.

All the men here are unable to find work.

Then a contractor comes into the camp and is

looking for workers. One of Tom"s friends

asks what the man is paying, and gets accused

of being a "red." Then the man is arrested,

and a fight starts. The sheriff tells

everyone that the camp will be burned. So the

Joads leave, with the exception of Casy who

got mixed up in the run-in with the sheriff,

and they find another government camp that is

clean, fair, and protected from the police.

Here Rose of Sharon"s husband deserts her and

the family. Although Rose of Sharon, who is

Tom"s sister, is pregnant. Then when the

family is out of money, they leave in search

of work. They hear of work in a peach

orchard, and head out for that. When they get

there, they are escorted into the orchard by

police. Outside the front of the orchard

there are many men yelling and screaming to

the workers. Once inside they begin picking

immediately so that they can have enough pay

for dinner that night. After dinner, Tom sets

out to see what all the men in front of the

orchard were yelling about. He finds Jim

Casy, who just got out of prison. Jim tells

Tom that they are striking against the owners

of the orchard who cut the wages in half.

During Tom and Casy"s talk some men come

looking for Casy, who is apparently the

leader of the strike. The men kill Casy, then

Tom kills the man who killed Casy. Tom runs

back to his house and has to hide because one

of the men broke his nose. They leave the

orchard and find a place where they pick

cotton, and Tom can hide until his nose is


One of the Joad children gets into a fight

and threatens to get her brother Tom, because

he has killed someone before. Ma Joad hears

this and tells Tom he has to leave. Tom feels

the same way because he feels he must carry

on with the work Casy was doing. So Tom takes

some money from Ma Joad, and leaves.

When the cotton is done being picked for the

season, the rains start to be heavy. When the

Joads think about leaving, Rose of Sharon,

Tom"s sister, starts to have the baby for

which she has been pregnant. Some of the

other men try to build a dam to keep the

water out of the boxcar they are staying in,

but the dam does not work. When the baby is

born, it is dead. The water keeps coming in,

so Pa Joad builds something the family can

stay on for a few days. When the rain lets

up, Ma Joad says they have to leave to find a

drier place. So they carry the children on

their shoulders until they get to a highway.

They head down the road to a barn with some

dry hay inside. There they find a man who

hasn"t eaten in six days, and is dying from

starvation. Since the Joads have no money, or

food, Ma suggests that Rose of Sharon feed

the man from her breasts. Sharon lets the man

drink from her breast and smiles.

At the time The Grapes of Wrath was

published, it was thought of as more of a

document to be debated over, than a work of

art. People didn"t know if this was the

entire truth, or if it was falsified. The

people in Oklahoma and California resented

the book. The Oklahoma people resented it

because they didn"t like being called Okies ,

and they denied that Oklahoma was a dust bowl

that couldn"t grow crops. In California

people denied what was in The Grapes of Wrath

. They said that the book was all black lies.

Life magazine ran specials that proved that

conditions were actually worse than Steinbeck

told about. Many people thought that

Steinbeck was a communist after The Grapes of

Wrath was released. Now that the public isn"t

offended by the novel we can realize that it

is not a communist inspired document, but a

work of art that illustrates the current

troubles in that frame of American history.

I found the book interesting. I did not

really like those chapters that popped up

occasionally that didn"t deal with the plot,

but helped explain the previous or following

chapters. I am sure that if I had much

trouble with a chapter that those chapters

would have helped me, but fortunately I

didn"t run into that problem. I had not

realized the full extent of the great

depression before reading The Grapes of Wrath

. I knew of the hardships of the suburbs, and

urban areas of the great depression, but I

was unaware of the hardships in the rural

areas. Also it never struck me that the

depression affected the west. I do not know

why but I never thought of it that way.

Reading this novel helped me realize the full

extent of the depresion.


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