The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Essay

697 Words 3 Pages
     John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is the story of the experiences of the Joad family from the time of their eviction from a farm near Sallisaw, Oklahoma to their first winter in California. The Joad family’s story illustrates the hardship and oppression suffered by migrant laborers during the Great Depression. The novel begins with the description of the conditions in Dust Bowl Oklahoma that ruined the crops and instigated massive foreclosures on farmland. Hundreds of families packed up what little belongings they had and traveled to California, where they hoped to find prosperity and rebuild their lives.
     The Grapes of Wrath is two intertwined stories. One of the Joad
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This is accompanied by the disintegration of the smaller family unit, which is replaced by the larger world family of the migrant people. The character that shows this change most dramatically is Tom Joad. When Tom comes out of prison, he is selfish and individualistic, although he has a strong love for his family. His experiences in California, coupled with the influence of his mother and Casy, increase his wisdom and greatly change him from his selfish ways. He becomes aware that he has to be concerned not only with his own family's welfare but also with the welfare of all families.
As a theme, Steinbeck wanted the reader to see that humanity is on a journey and for good or bad, humanity continues to move ahead. Along the journey come changes, another important idea in the novel. Journey is the main idea in the beginning of the novel when Tom Joad first gets out of prison and is looking for a ride home. Walking home he sees a turtle. Lying on the highway, having been missed by a car, but hit by a truck, the turtle still struggles to continue his own journey towards the southwest. Therefore, from the beginning of the novel, two journeys are taking place, one a man’s journey and the other, nature’s journey.
The idea of journey now can be seen in different levels. One level being the family‘s actual migration from Oklahoma to California. Another level being the Joad family as a part of a huge