Humanity's Journey in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Essay

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Humanity's Journey in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

As a major literary figure since the 1930s, Steinbeck displays in his writing a characteristic respect for the poor and oppressed. In many of his novels, his characters show signs of a quiet dignity and courage for which Steinbeck has a great admiration. For instance, in The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck describes the unrelenting struggle of the people who depend on the soil for their livelihood. One element helping give this novel an added touch of harmony is Steinbeck’s ability to bind these two ideas into one story: the never ending struggle to survive and primacy of the family.

The journey of the Joads serves as a suitable vehicle for the delivery of Steinbeck's message and
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The 'never say die' efforts of Uncle John to stop the rising flood water is one example of Steinbeck's unremitting struggle theme (Steinbeck 567). The constant effort of the entire Joad family to find work, although poor, oppressed, and hungry, shows that Steinbeck wants to show their tremendous courage and dignity. In this way, Steinbeck is able to use the journey structure to describe these fine qualities he sees and respects in the poverty-stricken masses of his time.

If one reads more deeply into The Grapes of Wrath, the reader may find that the journey of the Joads mirrors the journeys of other Okies and other forced migrations in history. The journey of the Joads has its ups and downs. Migrants are not always received with open arms; they are commonly persecuted and looked upon as subhuman. For them the promised land becomes the land of despair and suffering. While exposing the ordeal of their poverty, Steinbeck also seeks to affirm the sanctity of life and the unifying, clarifying forces inherent in human suffering (Wilson 529). In many ways, the journey of the Africans to America as slaves is similar to the dust bowl migrations. Both are forced from the land that they love by seemingly non-human forces. They were taken to the land of riches where they were poor. The slaves were however taken by force but the Okies were seduced by the lure of work and
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