Essay on Critical Response to the Grapes of Wrath

616 Words Dec 30th, 2005 3 Pages
John Steinbeck went into writing about the Dust Bowl migration feeling that he had the responsibility to convey the problem correctly. The Grapes of Wrath not only works as a call to action in favor of the masses of migrant workers that were forced to live in poverty, but also expresses several other messages about mankind itself. Steinbeck uses powerful imagery, unique and suspenseful structure, dramatic tone, and compelling symbolism to effectively squeeze a mountain of an issue into pages of text.
The Grapes of Wrath is structured with short chapters pertaining to the whole mass of migrants and longer chapters directed towards the actions of the Joad family. The styles of writing change dramatically between the two types of chapters,
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This is most likely due to the fact that the emotions affected Steinbeck when he witnessed their tragedies, and also due to him thinking it best to tell their story through their own emotions.
Steinbeck also uses symbolism to convey complex concepts in his novel. The first symbol in the novel is the land turtle. The turtle struggles along, being targeted by one of the drivers as it strives across the road, just as the family struggles as it moves west and becomes a victim of the selfish Californians. The next symbol is the tractors sent by the banks, representing the dehumanization of the farmers forced west. The tractors send the families into a world where they are treated like animals, and are forced to live like animals. Another symbol is found in Jim Casy, who becomes the Christ-like figure in the novel. Although he denies being a preacher, he spreads his ideas and thoughts among the people around him. After his unjust murder, which is another Christ-like attribute, Tom follows his ideas and tells Ma he's going to put them into practice, like those who followed Christ. Steinbeck uses these symbols to set up his themes in the novel, which support his overall message.
The Grapes of Wrath is known for its great ability to sum of the era of the Great Depression, supported by Steinbeck's balanced infusion of the appropriate structure, tone, imagery, and symbolism. Although this novel was written in the 1930s, its message will

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