The Role Of Serving Others In The Grapes Of Wrath

Decent Essays
Mahatma Ghandi said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." By this he meant, the best way to discover more about yourself is to serve others. However, this is, at best, a gross overstatement and, at worst, inaccurate. Serving others generally does not serve to teach one about oneself, instead it preoccupies him in the needs of who he is serving. Introspection, considering one's actions through the objective lens of hindsight, is, however, a better way to discover more about oneself, and thus nullifies the statement that the best way to learn more about oneself is through helping others. Serving others does not primarily effect self-understanding, but rather a preoccupation with the needs of the…show more content…
The Grapes of Wrath is a story set in the late 1930s which portrays a poor family moving from Oklahoma to California in search of work. In one scene, the mother of the group, Ma, finds herself surrounded by hungry children in a migrant workers' camp, desperate for some of the food she is cooking for her family. In an act of generosity, Ma gives the children the leftovers. Ma, however, learns nothing new about herself: she has lived long enough to know that she is capable of such kindness, and, in any case, that probably wasn't her first time giving to others. Even if she didn't know about that particular virtue, no epiphany would have come in that moment: in awe of the egregious situations of those children, Ma was too concerned with who she was helping to have any thoughts on her own behavior. Serving others, then, doesn't often show us anything new about ourselves as we are frecuently familiar with how far we are willing to go to help others, and we are often too preoccupied with the conditions of those we are serving in the moment to consider ourselves. Though serving others is a rather ineffective way to learn more about oneself, introspection is well-suited for the task of self-realization. I find that by thinking about my own actions, I learn much…show more content…
I started to revert back to my old self. Through this introspection, I realized profound and relevant truths about myself that never could have been revealed through service. Does one learn that she prefers white cars through helping at a homeless shelter or reflecting on the colors of all her past cars? Serving others cannot be the best way to learn more about oneself because introspection is clearly superior in this regard. Just because a renowned person, Mahatma Ghandi, said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others," does not mean that it is true. In fact, serving others does not do much to aid self-discovery: in The Grapes of Wrath, we see a generous mother feel pity, but nothing close to enligtenment after giving to children in need. However, a better method of learning about oneself, introspection, takes a higher place, if not the highest, on the list of ways to self-discovery, making false the statement that the best way to learn more about oneself is through service. However, though service is not an especially effective tool in this regard though introspection is, learning more about oneself is a process that pulls from many
Get Access