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Describe Why The Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck Is Considered The Definitive Novel Of The Depression Era In America.

1153 words - 5 pages

CalitopiaAs the exposés by Jacob Reis and The Jungle by Sinclair Lewis influenced the Imperial Age of America, so did The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck influence The Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath is universally known as the definitive novel of the time. In it, Steinbeck depicts the epic struggle of the Midwest farmers facing The Dust Bowl. The Grapes of Wrath, written as an exposé of the conditions of the Midwest farmers, portrays the struggle of the Joad family not as a struggle against nature, but as a suffering caused by the greed of other men. Similar to the argument made by the Socialist party during World War I, Steinbeck argues that the cause of the suffering and the evil in America is caused by the chasm between the rich and the poor. The Grapes of Wrath is the definitive novel of The Great Depression because of its clear and vivid portrayal of the plight of the working class during The Great Depression. The novel raised public awareness the plight of the migrant farmers, and, in the words of critic Robert DeMott, the plight of the working class "entered both the American consciousness and conscience."John Steinbeck wrote the book as exposé of the problems facing farmers and migrant workers during The Great Depression. He used symbolism extensively to represent struggles and problems as well as to foreshadow the future. Near the beginning of the book, Tom Joad comes across a turtle attempting to cross a busy road. Every time the turtle attempts to cross the road, he is nearly hit by a car. Steinbeck used the turtle to represent the working class attempting to better themselves. Steinbeck used the cars to represent the impediments to the working class, such as the wealthy capitalists or the government both defending the status quo. John Steinbeck also designed each character to represent a different struggle or problem of the period. In the first chapter of the book, we are introduced to Tom Joad. When we meet Tom, he has just been released from prison. We see in Tom a reluctance to look to the future, for he feels that if he should look beyond the present he shall be overcome with hopelessness. This reluctance to look toward the feeling was widespread during the depression. Ma Joad represents the women of The Great Depression, struggling to keep their families afloat. Pa Joad represents the struggle of the men to support the family when there are no jobs to take. We see his mental state deteriorate to the point that Pa Joad is utterly useless. Steinbeck used symbolism to express his disgust for the political and economical systems of the day. He used the symbols to show the American public exactly what was going on in the lower classes, to show the American public the discrimination that the poor faced everyday, and above all to stir them to do something about it. Steinbeck also used these symbols to expose the injustices in America. It was Steinbeck's ability to open the eyes of the American public that...

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