Unity of a Family Explored in The Grapes of Wrath Essay

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Unity of a Family Explored in The Grapes of Wrath

 

One would say that on a literal level The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is about the Joad family's journey to California during The Dust Bowl. However, it is also about the unity of a family and the concept of birth and death, both literal and abstract. Along with this, the idea of a family unit is explored through these births and deaths.

 

As can be seen in The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads are a very tight-knit family. Yet on their trip to California, they experience many losses and additions to their family. In general, Steinbeck's novel abides by the circle of life. When a birth occurs, a death follows, and when a death occurs, a birth follows. However, in The
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In Chapter Thirteen, Grampa does die, as he was never truly the same once he left his land. This is because the land goes back to Grampa's ancestry, and losing the land is like losing a family member. This is the Joad family's first run in with death on their journey, yet Ma Joad still manages to keep the family together.

 

Moreover, in Chapter Thirteen, as the Joad family continues on their journey, they meet the Wilson family. The two families decide to carry on with their trip together. It is at this point that Steinbeck follows the pattern of the circle of life. Steinbeck begins by writing about the rebirth of Tom Joad. Next, Grampa dies. Following this, there is a birth for the Joads when they add the Wilson family to their own. However, as previously stated, in order to represent the hardships of the journey, many more deaths than births occur in the novel. In Chapter Eighteen alone, Noah leaves the family, the Joads continue on without the Wilson family, and Granma dies. It may seem like these losses would tear the family apart, but Ma Joad understands the concept of family, and tries her hardest to keep the family as one unit. For example, Ma Joad sits up all night with Granma's dead body, jut so the family can cross the border. "'The fambly hadda get acrost'" (312).

 

Furthermore, by the time Chapter Nineteen ends, the Joads lost their land, their dog, Grampa, Noah, Granma, and the Wilsons. In Chapter