Hope And Endurance In The Grapes Of Wrath

1140 words - 5 pages

Hope and Endurance in The Grapes of Wrath



John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath in response to the Great Depression. Steinbeck's intentions were to publicize the movements of a fictional family affected by the Dust Bowl that was forced to move from their homestead. Also a purpose of Steinbeck's was to criticize the hard realities of a dichotomized American society.


The Great Depression was brought about through various radical economic practices and greatly affected the common man of America. Although all Americans were faced with the same fiscal disparity, a small minority began to exploit those in distress. Along the trek westward from Oklahoma, the Joad family met a grand multitude of adversity. However, this adversity was counteracted with a significant amount of endurance exhibited by the Joads and by generalized citizens of America.


A magnanimous amount of motivation for the tenant farmers was generally found in the self, in an individualistic manner. As "gentle (winds) followed the rain clouds," furthering the magnitude of the dust storms, the survival of the farmers and their families soon became doubtful. The men would sit in "the doorways of their houses; their hands were busy with sticks and little rocks... (as they) sat still--thinking--figuring." The adversity represented by the weather was hindered by the idea that man could triumph over nature--over the machine--and retain a sense of self-identity.


Another sense of the attempt to retain a moralistic self-identity and persevere through the obstacles present was the reaction had by the tenant farmers when forced to move off their land. Standing in conflict with "the cat,"--the destroyer of lands--or the tractor, the farmers began to correlate their problems with one another. Although conjuring up incoherent manifestations of violence to counteract the machine, several grand ideas of enduring nature were developed. Among which existed the idea of traveling west to California, despite the closure of the frontier. The tenant farmers continued to endure by self-motivation, "we got to figure...there's some way to stop this...it's not like lightning or earthquakes...we've got a thing made by men, and by God that's something we can change."


The idea of traveling west to evade the economic conundrums of Oklahoma was patent in the Joad family. Upon the release of Tom Joad from prison (who had been sentenced to seven years for manslaughter, but received parole), the family reunited and began the trek west. Al, brother to Tom, asked his mother if she were worried about the possible outcomes of the trip, and what could take place on the road. To this she responded with a religious connotation, evidence of endurance laced with religion as a sign of hope, "You'll be glad a that preacher `fore we're through...that preacher'll help us..." Not only did Americans respond to the Great...

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