Themes Of Unity In The Grapes Essay

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John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is a moving account of the social plight of Dustbowl farmers and is widely considered an American classic. The novel takes place during the depression of the 1930s in Oklahoma and all points west to California. Steinbeck uses the Joad family as a specific example of the general plight of the poor farmers. The Joads are forced off of their farm in Oklahoma by the banks and drought, and they, like many other families of the time, head out for the promised land of California. They endure much hardship along the way, and they finally make it to California only to find that work is scarce and human labor and life are cheap. Tom Joad, the eldest son in the family, starts the book freshly out of jail…show more content…
Tom retaliates in rage, killing a deputy, and forcing him into hiding. Alone all day long for weeks, he begins to think about the plight of the migrant workers and about what Jim was constantly babbling about. One thing that Jim Casy said close to his death, which Tom broads upon, has to do with a revelation that came to the preacher while he was in jail. He tells a group of followers '…one day they give us some beans that was sour. One fella started yellin', an' nothin' happened… then we all got to yellin'… By God! Then something happened! They come a-runnin', and they give us other stuff to eat'; (522). This was a telling example to Tom about the power of the group over one man. Tom reveals his thought evolution in the final meeting with his mother, before he leaves to continue the work of Jim Casy. He says, 'But I know now a fella ain't no good alone,'; and 'Two are better than one, because… if they fall, the one will lif' his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up'; (570). Peter Lisca, an extensive critic of Steinbeck's work, explains '…in is last meeting with his mother, in which he asserts his spiritual unity with all men, it is evident that he has moved from material and personal resentment to ethical indignation, from particulars to principles'; (Lisca 98). Tom clearly changes
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