Essay on Rhetorical Analysis- the Grapes of Wrath

967 Words Oct 7th, 2010 4 Pages
Rhetorical Analysis- The Grapes of Wrath

“You don’ know what you’re a-doin’,” were Casy’s last words before he died as a martyr. Casy died for his cause, his belief that the elite were not truly aware of how their greed was causing the suffering of the weak and that the weak could only surpass their sorrows if they worked together. Steinbeck uses chapter 25 of Grapes of Wrath to portray this very message. Steinbeck uses an array of rhetorical devices such as symbolism and the use of a instructive tone which gives the reader a sense of being sermonized to portray the greed of the elite and how that fuels the wrath of the weak, while also empowering the weak to join together and warning the elite of the inevitable consequences of
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The sermon-like feel of the chapter is effective because it motivates the audience, willing the workers to come together and unite against the elite. The words that Steinbeck chooses to use in this chapter not only resemble biblical language, they also show a clear contrast with how the land is being used. The biblical language can be recognized when Steinbeck beautifully depicts California before the greed manifested. He describes what can be perceived as paradise, an allusion of sorts to the Garden of Eden. This language and allusion brings the audience a sense of serenity and peacefulness that soothes the reader. This sensation is ripped away from the reader when he begins to describe the rot and the decay caused by the miserliness of the elite. By depicting the good found in the land with quasi-biblical language, the greed of the privileged becomes much more malicious and cruel. This contrast helps the audience grasp Steinbeck’s message of how the greed is causing so much turmoil in a state that was once plentiful and luscious. Steinbeck also relies on symbolism to portray his message.

In addition, Steinbeck utilizes symbolism to help reveal his message to the audience. In this chapter, the putrefying crops that resulted from the system’s agricultural mismanagement represent the landowner’s greed, and how it is responsible for not only the
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