Sybolism In Grapes Of Wrath Essay

2288 words - 9 pages

"Symbolism" In John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath there were many symbols which played an important role in the development of the book. The book wouldn't be nearly as good as it is if it didn't have the turtle, the journey, the animals and ants, or the Biblical parallels.The people took the journey to follow the American Dream. The American Dream is one of the prevalent themes in the book. Everyone has a different American Dream, and it has changed a lot over the years. The American Dream is to be successful, and the people were successful if they stayed alive and kept their families alive. To be successful means something different for every person, and the Joads wanted to thrive but they dreamed of something that seemed somewhat out of their reach. Surviving is a big part of the American Dream, but there is more to it. Ma believes that no matter what happens people will survive, so her American Dream was the frosting on the cake of life (the frosting being a house with a white picket fence), not the cakes center (the center being survival). "We are the people. We go on" "We got to go on now. We got to go on down."(294) The American Dream for some of the Joads was to get a house with a white picket fence around it. It's not much to ask for, but the house with the white picket fence slipped right through their fingers. At least they survived, and by the end they seemed content with their newfound knowledge of man's brotherhood.In the book their journey was symbolic of the fact that people do what they have to do to survive, and if they stay alive they have accomplished part of their own American Dream. They left everything, not by choice, but because they had no other option." "˜It ain't kin we? It's will we?' she said firmly. "˜As far as "˜kin,' we can't do nothin', not go to California or nothin'; but as far as "˜will,' why, we'll do what we will.' "(132). The Joads couldn't go to California, but they had to because it's in man's instinct to do anything he can to survive. The Joads were one family that was supposed to symbolize all of the families going west. The journey symbolized the struggle to survive; it symbolized the fact that they had no other alternative, they embarked on the journey not because they were brave people looking for new land, but because they were taking the one option laid out in front of them. "It don't take no nerve to do somepin when there ain't nothin' else you can do."(284). The people that were part of the westward movement took problems as they came and solved them. The solution to the problem of the Joads was the journey. The Joads needed a solution and needed one fast as they raced against time and tractors. Taking a journey west was the only answer that came up. With the thirteen million other farmers being pushed off their land and moving west the Joads figured it was the best thing to do; it was the only thing to do. They needed to survive and they did; maybe miserably, but...

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