Analysis Of “The Grapes Of Wrath”In the novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, the life of a migrant family,who is forced off their land in Oklahoma and who is in search of employment in California, is portrayed. During the course of the novel, the Joads move from a concernfor themselves and their own personal welfare to a concern for all the people of theworld. This becomes one of the major themes in the novel. It is traceable through manyof the characters such as Jim Casey, Tom Joad, Ma Joad, and Rosa of Sharon.
It is alsotraceable through many different action taken by the Joad family on the whole.The character of Jim Casy plays a strong role in bringing forth the theme indiscussion. Casey is a preacher like none other. He does not preach the orthodox ideasof the Christian religion. Instead, he preaches the Emersonian doctrine of the Oversoul. Tom Joad once recalls that one time Casey went into the wilderness to find his ownsoul, an he foun he didnt have no soul that was hisn Says he foun he jus got a littlepiece of a great big soul.
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..his lilttle piece of a soul wasnt no good less it was with therest, an was whole. This is part of Emersons views of the Oversoul; mans soul isbreaking away from some larger soul and in death this individual soul is reunited with thelarger Oversoul. It is through Casys beliefs in the concept of the Oversoul and his prisonexperience that reveals to Jim that only through the unity and concern for the entirehuman race will the migrants succeed.Rose of Sharon is another character which can be used to trace the progression ofthe Joads from a concern for themselves and their own personal welfare to a concern forall the people of the world. Through out the novel rose of Sharon is shown as a sick andwhining girl. It is easy to blame this on the fact that she a pregnant woman who isexpected to deliver at any time.
However, her attitude and actions show that she isgrouchy and irritable beyond limits. Though the family is in great peril she worries onlyabout the effects it will have on her baby. Once the baby is born into the world a bluemummy, everything changes for her. She begins to hold a concern beyond herself andthe baby, because it does not exist. She shows this in the ending of the novel giving lifeto some stranger who is starving. through this she becomes part of that brotherhood ofman which Casy preached about; she becomes part of the Oversoul.
The character of Ma Joad is a character which supports the theme in discussionby focusing on the complete opposite. Throughout the novel Ma Joad is worried aboutkeeping the family together. In its literal interpretation it directly contrasts the idea ofthe Joads moving beyond just a concern for their immediate family to a concern for all ofhumanity. Ma Joad is the force which holds the family together. She realizes that they haveno home and that the only value and meaning in life is that which they derive from beinga family.
In spite of this she knows that the family is breaking up. However she stillsfights to keep the family together. She wants to keep them together so that they areprotected and that can be only done when the family is whole. This can be related to thetheme because the reason Ma Joad fights to hold the family together is the reason thefamily must worry more about the humanity on a whole.
Only when people worry aboutthe human race on the whole will the race be truly protected and will truly be able tosucceed. Again it all goes to Casys preaching about the Oversoul.Tom Joad is the main character in the novel. He enters the novel as a man who isjust getting out of prison for killing a man and is interested in his own personal comfortsand wants. As he tells Jim Casy, Im just gonna lay one foot down before another.
Heshows that he feels no regret or guilt for having killed a man. As a grown man he valueshis own individuality very heavily and does like to be pushed around. All