Chapter 25 of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Essay examples

2622 Words 11 Pages
Chapter 25 of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


In the twenty-fifth chapter of his novel The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck presents the reader with a series of vivid images, accompanied by a series of powerful indictments. Steinbeck effectively uses both the potent imagery and clear statements of what he perceives as fact to convey his message. This short chapter offers a succinct portrayal of one of the major themes of the larger work. Namely, the potential bounty of nature corrupted and left to rot by a profit-driven system, a system that ultimately fails.

Steinbeck begins the chapter with the simple statement, "The spring is beautiful in California" (p. 346). The proceeding explanation of California’s springtime beauty
…show more content…
32). Spring is how Steinbeck has chosen to begin this chapter and, though it is not an "everlasting spring," this Californian spring resembles Ovid’s Golden Age. Just as Ovid’s ages of the world degenerate into baser and baser metals, so Steinbeck’s California degenerates from springtime of bounty to a harvest-time of fruit rotting on the ground.

Continuing to contrast Ovid and Steinbeck another difference becomes apparent. In Ovid’s Golden Age the earth is bountiful without the interference of humans. Ovid says, "The earth itself, without compulsion, untouched by the hoe … produced all things spontaneously, and men were content with foods that grew without cultivation" (p. 32). Steinbeck’s Californian Eden comes about in vastly different manner. Steinbeck states, "Behind the fruitfulness are men of understanding and knowledge and skill" (p. 346). These men manipulate the earth, experimenting with seeds and roots, seeking to make plants resilient to all manners of pest and blight. Others, "men of chemistry," devise chemical sprays to kills insects, and "cut out disease and rots, mildews and sicknesses" (p. 346). There are still others. "Doctors of preventative medicine," surgeons, and border guards, all of whom are attempting to increase the yield and bounty of the earth. No,…