Free Will In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

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Steinbeck’s opinion on free will is established early on in the book. “And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual” (131). His whole idea is incorporated in the story through the word “Timshel.” Timshel was first introduced by Lee, Adam’s servant. “But the hebrew word, the word Timshel- ‘Thou mayest’-that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou Mayest’-it is also…show more content…
The second generation Trasks (Caleb and Aron) seem to be following the story of Cain and Abel just like their father and uncle: A brother wants love from their father and the other brother acquires it so easily that the first brother lives a life full of jealousy. “He knew she preferred his brother, but that was nothing new to him. Nearly everyone preferred Aron with his golden hair and the openness that allowed his affection to plunge like a puppy. Cal's emotions hid deep in him and peered out, ready to retreat or attack He was starting to punish Abra for liking his brother, and this was nothing new either ” (345). The jealousy that Cal feels feeds into the dark thoughts he already has and causes him to take revenge on his brother like sabotaging his first chances with abra (348) and revealing to Aron where their mother is. (546). Cal instantly felt remorse for causing Aron pain and him running away to the army, but he never gets to make amends with…show more content…
“I kind of like Caleb-Caleb Trask… Well Aaron I've always liked but he didn't make it to the promised land” (270). The only reason that Aron Trask didn't make it to the “promised land” in the end is because of his own decisions. He chose to enlist in the army because he couldn't accept the fact his mom has been alive the whole time and runs a whorehouse; a dirty and impure place. So he instead ran away. The “promised land” being redemption and accepting “Timshel,” that people make their own choices. Cal struggles to understand that Aron's own decisions is what got him killed not Cal showing him his mother that runs a whorehouse. Does this make Cal a bad person? No, Cal is under the impression that he will be like mother because he understands the darkness inside her. He may have some of his mother in him but he chooses to overcome that when his father gives him his blessing at the end of the book. Cal is being liberated by the term “timshel” without even knowing it. Every time he chooses to be better than his mother and not give into the dark thoughts he has, he is essentially overcoming sin, and since his father blessed him he knows he can choose to be good going through his life. Steinbeck’s purpose of showing Cal’s progression was to show that real people can overcome things in themselves and choose to not
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