Pathos In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

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The Great Depression was a time of economic crisis around the world from the time period 1929 to World War II. To help capture the feeling in this period, John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. The main plot of of the story is about the Joads, a farming family forced from their home sent to search for work in California. Steinbeck includes a series of intercalary chapters to help paint a picture of migrant workers and the challenges they faced. In chapter 9, Steinbeck explores the emotional trials the tenants forced to endure when they are required to leave their homes and their lives, this chapter is an appeal to pathos. To convey pathos Steinbeck employs syntax and dreary diction to obtain an emotional response from the reader.
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At the beginning of the chapter, Steinbeck writes in a matter-of-fact tone. This can be seen in the following line, “Bring 'em out. Pile 'em, up. Load 'em in the wagon”. There an emotional disconnect between the speaker and what is happening in their life, like the speaker is in a state of shock. As the story continues, the speaker starts feeling the effects of the loss of his possessions and his land. The diction of the speaker becomes rapidly negative and he begins to use words such as “dead”, “bitterness”, “dreadful”, “pain”, “without”, “burn” and “can’t”. This rapid speech transformation, shows the reader how painful the loss is. He no longer feels as if he is just losing his land and his possession, he now feels he is losing his life.
In conclusion, the rhetorical devices John Steinbeck uses in chapter 9 of The Grapes of Wrath helps convey pathos, creating an emotional response from the reader. From the disturbing diction to the haunting parallelism, steinbeck conveys the message that what happened to MIdwestern farmers during the Great Depression was not acceptable. With storytelling, he proves no one should ever face these kinds of hardships
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