Symbolism in Grapes of Wrath

             The Grapes of Wrath combines Steinbeck’s idolization of the land, dislike for corporeality and belief that people can survive the malicious influence of their atmosphere. These substantial concepts are woven into the book by the use of inter chapters, the telling of the Joads story and the use of symbols. A symbol is defined as an object, imagine, character or figure used to represent abstract ideas or conceptions. Significant symbols used throughout the novel include those of the turtle, the dust and rain cycle, the death of the Joad’s dog, the car dealership, Rose of Sharon’s pregnancy, the grapes and a tree.
             The turtle plowing its way along the dirt road stands for survival, an active strength in life and all of mankind, which cannot be beaten by its environment or other obstacles in its way. It stands for the journey of the migrant workers, who are taken advantage of and exploited by the wealthy corporate owners. The turtle is a helpless creature, much like the current life of the Joads. They are forced to migrate, taking what belongings they can. Both the turtle and the Joads are travelling west, and have various impediments to overcome. The female driver successfully attempts to avoid injuring the turtle, demonstrating the disposition of some people in life. Comparably, the driver of the truck goes out of its way to hit the turtle, knocking it on its back. The turtle struggles to regain composure, but when it does it continues along its way unharmed. It is an ancient creature, and associated with old age comes wisdom.
             The commencement of the book delineates a distinct representation of the situation facing the drought-stricken farms of Oklahoma, being that everything is covered by dust. The dust storms have taken over, and suffocate the life out of all developing life forms. The dust is equated with deadness, and exemplifies the erosion of the lives of the people. The land is ruined, and therefore the people are forced...

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Symbolism in Grapes of Wrath. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:30, January 21, 2017, from