Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath Essay example

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Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck is an author known worldwide for his compelling stories and novels. One such novel is The Grapes of Wrath. This novel was written to expose the plight of those dispossessed from their lands by the Great Depression. Steinbeck uses several literary elements to help relate the story to the reader. In The Grapes of Wrath, as in his other works, Steinbeck relies on the use of symbolism to strengthen and enhance the plot.

By far, the most involved example of symbolism is found in the character of the preacher, Jim Casy. Casy not only is a Christ figure but also embodies the belief of Transcendentalism. These are supported by many examples throughout the story. Some of these examples
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The Transcendentalists, including such names as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, believed "in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy of insight over logic aand experience for the revelation of the deepest truths" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol 11, 894). Casy, by comparison, says in the story, "All that lives is holy" (Steinbeck 157), tying in the belief of the natural goodness found in man. As his beliefs develop, Casy begins to see that all of creation and humankind is united, and that he must not work for the improvement of the souls of individuals, but for the improvement of the total human condition. Transcendentalism differs greatly from mainstream Christianity, but Steinbeck chose to incorporate this belief into the character of Casy for a very important reason. In the time period when this book was written, the Great Depression, the worship of some distant God was not the first thing on the minds of the millions of people who were starving, barely earning enough to keep alive. Transcendentalism, however, was something with which these people could relate. If all humanity was united, then people should work together for the common good. If there was anything they needed, the poor of that era needed the rich to work toward the common good, by giving to the poor what they
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