John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath: "Casy And Tom: Two Explorers"

939 words - 4 pages

One interpretation of the poem by Gwendolyn Brooks titled "The Explorer" is that the speaker of the poem is on a journey in his mind, in search for his true self. Many people explore themselves in order to define who they are, why they are here, and what their role in life is; some more than others. In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a novel about the hardships of the migrant workers who travel to California, this same theme of search for self is developed chiefly through the comparison of two of the novel's main characters, Jim Casy and Tom Joad. When the reader first meets Casy he hasn't been seen by anyone for quite a while; he "went off alone, an' . . . [now he] ain't so sure of a lot of things" (28). Casy had been searching in solitude, in the wilderness as Jesus and Moses did, so that he will not be interrupted. That long time alone though didn't get him any close to the "something" he needed in order to complete his "search for self". Casy, like any other explorer, was unsure of what his role was now that he wasn't a preacher anymore. He is left confused between not knowing "what [he] was prayin' to or for" and not being ale to stop himself from seeing the relationship between man and nature as "holy" (110). Tom on the other hand, in the beginning of the novel, didn't seem to put much thought into this "search for self". His apathetic attitude toward religion reflected his attitude towards Casy and the preacher's philosophical speeches, especially when he picks the Psalm out of the scripture and calls it "blowed full of religion" (195). At some point in the novel though, both characters must have regarded each other as a relatively influential person since they discuss matters and note their differences. Tom lays his "dogs down one at a time" while Casy climbs fences that ain't even strang up yet" (237). This difference is a result of how the two see "search for self". Casy is unconsciously rushing to find himself while Tom is just starting the search and hasn't experienced the frustration of not getting anywhere after much thinking. Then these two characters who thought themselves to be different find out they share an observation when Casy notes his thoughts on listening to others and Tom realizes that's what he was going to talk to Casy about just now. Tom hasn't "seen" yet, but Casy has, and they both know this. Casy saw what you need to see in order to find yourself. Casy hasn't completed his search for self yet though, and Tom is just starting to figure things out, following in Casy's...

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