Literary Analysis Of The Grapes Of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath: A Literary Analysis Some of the best and most efficient methods communicating issues pertaining to society are through literature that achieves empathy. Feelings of sympathy and concern are hard to achieve when relation to a situation cannot transpire. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck delivered the conditions and gruesome reality of the migrant and farm workers during the “dust bowl” years. Through Steinbeck’s novel, his use of symbolism and explicit language brings attention in a manner that was different and contemporary for its time of publication. The Grapes of Wrath depict the harsh reality of poverty during the Great Depression, in addition, the imagery and literary devices used by Steinbeck to write the novel,…show more content…
The most prominent use of similes is the comparison of characters to animal behaviors or characteristics. Steinbeck writes: “ …them injuns was cute—slick as snakes, an’ quiet when they wanted” (325) The former simile suggests that Indians are like snakes, shrewd and astute, which are the characteristics of snakes, slick, silent and in some cases deadly. In addition, another simile that is descriptive of the current activity through the California valleys and highways is: “…They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless-restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do-to lift-to push, to pull, to pick, to cut-anything, any burden to bear, for food”(233). In this quote Steinbeck dramatizes the desperation of the dislocate farmers that have to feed their families but unable to do so by the lack of work. To correlate ants to humans allows the reader to conceptualize the agonizing inability that an assumed provider must feel when, being fully capable of working, unable to satisfy their families needs.
Author Robert J. Griffin and William A. Freedman explain that “..the most frequent and significant use [in The Grapes of Wrath] of the numerous animal tropes is to characterize the Okies’ plight: the Joads are forced off their forty acres, forced to live ‘piled in John’s house like gophers in a winter burrow’”(p. 571). They proceed by highlighting the use of negative descriptive words towards the land
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Prior to reading the novel, one might question the significance of the grapes in relation to wrath. Further into the chapters, its understood and noted that the idea of the utopian farmland imagined by the Joad family is nothing but an unfortunate and unrealistic expectation. The concept of the grapes is introduced by Grandpa in page 103, “ Come time we get to California I’ll have a big bunch of grapes in my han’ all the time, a-nibbling off it all the time, by God!”(Steinbeck) To Grandpa’s misfortune he is the first person to die during the endeavor of reaching the abundant and rich-in-jobs, Californian valley. However, as with most literature, the meaning and symbolism of a particular word or phrase do not solely represent the interpretation of a single reader, but many, to include the author’s. In fact, the grapes of wrath have a relation to the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia Ward in 1908 after touring Union army camps near Washington D.C.
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