John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is the story of the experiences of the Joad family from the time of their eviction from a farm near Sallisaw, Oklahoma to their first winter in California. The Joad family’s story illustrates the hardship and oppression suffered by migrant laborers during the Great Depression. The novel begins with the description of the conditions in Dust Bowl Oklahoma that ruined the crops and instigated massive foreclosures on farmland. Hundreds of families packed up what little belongings they had and traveled to California, where they hoped to find prosperity and rebuild their lives.
The Grapes of Wrath is two intertwined stories. One of the Joad family and their personal struggles, and the other of the greater effect of the Dust Bowl and depression on the massive amounts of people like the Joads. He trades off each chapter, one chapter telling the story of the Joads and the next talking about the migrants. It shows the external battle of man verses a hostile environment and the internal battles each person must fight in his or her own way, to survive.
The Joads had many hardships and trials to overcome throughout their long, arduous journey. Yet they never faltered on their path, each and every member of the family knew where they wanted to go and didn’t allow minor setbacks to stop them. They were confident they would survive their endeavors.
As the story progresses the Joads progress as well, from only being concerned with their own personal welfare and survival, to being aware of the injustice toward everyone like them. This is accompanied by the disintegration of the smaller family unit, which is replaced by the larger world family of the migrant people. The character that shows this change most dramatically is Tom Joad. When Tom comes out of prison, he is selfish and individualistic, although he has a strong love for his family. His experiences in California, coupled with the influence of his mother and Casy,...