Themes of Unity in the Grapes

1599 WordsOct 8, 19997 Pages
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…show more content…
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 his feelings and life goals from selfish to self-less. The power of unity is emphasized through the main events of the novel when the Joads leave the government camp and in the strike at the peach fields. The best part of their arduous and depressing stay in California, is when the Joads get a space in the government camp at Weedpatch. The government camp governs and polices itself, has clean camp spaces and large bathrooms with modern conveniences. Here the migrants are free from the malicious deputies, who continually beat up the migrants and burn down their paper shacks at the edges of different towns. “When the migrants band together to run the camp at Weedpatch, a camp that is clean, decent, orderly and without deputy sheriffs from outside, the people are beginning to move toward a social ideal” (Bowden 199). When the Joads are forced to leave the camp for lack of work and food, they realize the power of the camp as a group of people as compared to the dangers outside of the camp that they continually face. When Tom is saying goodbye to
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