Symbolism in Grapes of Wrath

Length: 4 Pages 998 Words

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, demonstrati Continue...


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This is the opposite of their first predicament, and yet similar because nature is ruling their lives and forcing them to move. Nature comes into play again, this time with the title of the novel. Comparably, the driver of the truck goes out of its way to hit the turtle, knocking it on its back. The junkyard guard illustrates the dehumanizing conditions of technology. While they are there, a deluxe roadster runs over their dog and ruefully kills it. The stillborn baby is devastating, particularly after the loss of her husband. Though the book tells of the restrictions and hardships that the Joads arduously endure, these symbols characterize the times. By providing the milk to the old man, she is demonstrating her maturity and transition in character from the emergence of the novel. 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 land is ruined, and therefore the people are forced to leave. The grapes symbolize both the sourness and abundance of life, as Grandpa takes so much excitement in explaining his intentions of squeezing them down his face when they reach California. This represents how some people in life travel so quickly towards their destination that they disregard the importance of the lives of others. The tree must struggle against nature, while the Joads struggle against the nature of people.

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