The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


The Grapes of Wrath is a true story about real America of the 30s. The author, John Steinbeck, was blamed for lie, and the novel that was published in 1939 was unacceptable for the government of the USA. The rulers of country did not want to admit their guilt for hunger and death. Everything was centralized on interest yield, and nobody cared about people who were left with nothing but despair. Nevertheless, a reader understands the reality of the story. From the very first pages, one finds himself on the fields of Oklahoma. Right to the end, the reader sees unfairness under the sun of California.

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John Steinbeck uses usual and common phrases in the book that makes the story really close to people. Moreover, all the characters of the novel are very alive. It does not sound like the author created totally imaginary heroes. All of them are ordinary people who save their morality and traditions despite all the challenges they face. At least there is nothing as natural and trustworthy as the characters of the novel. In spite of the fact that the Great Depression took place a long time ago, its problematic aspects are still relevant today. The ideal American Dream means unconditional achievement of everything through the hard work and intelligence. At first sight, it sounds like everything is possible. However, talking about the American Dream, Steinbeck shows it as something mythical and ephemeral.


In some sense, the writer is brave enough to raise such thorny issues since it can provoke a sense of frustration. The author portrays the American Dream and the possibilities available for the Joads family and other migrant workers. As it turns out, the real picture is far away from the romantic ideals. One can learn the bitter truth from The Grapes of Wrath as it is the novel that unveils the most problematic aspects of social life in America. The 1930s was a period of crisis that resulted in the high number of victims among ordinary workers. Millions of farmers were broke and suffered from unfairness. They experienced the eviction from their homes. People saw tractors razing their houses to the ground. The worst thing was that they could do nothing about it except seeking for a new life somewhere else. Thus, from Oklahoma to California, people were searching their American Dream. Some of the farmers could work for the government destroying their neighbors’ houses with the help of the soulless machines. There were a few of those who were ready to act like that because they needed money for their wives and children. The author does not blame people like them. Steinbeck is truly devoted to the ideals of humanism. He loves his characters but without overstatement of their personal qualities. The Joads are full of common features being little rude simpletons but hardworking and generous. The writer reproaches the bourgeois canons and life circumstances that led people to indigence and despair and exposes social-democratic conditions of the American life in the 30s. Though people tried to compete with capital, they failed. Drought left them without money, and their government did not support them at all, and they lost everything they owned.

The Grapes of Wrath is a social novel that represents precision and plasticity of John Steinbeck’s writing. In addition, it can be called an epic novel. The central problem is the conflict of nation-wide significance. The author implements the tradition of critical realism and naturalism to describe the life of the Joads family. The work includes the story about several generations of the Joads. Sometimes, the writer describes quite unattractive pictures but, first of all, he shows real life and emotions of people who come through all the challenges of unfair American government. At the same time, Steinbeck shows how people can save their traditions, sense of morality and generosity despite anything. In spite of an awful lack of food, Muley Graves is ready to share his food with his old friends Tom Joad and Jim Casy. The latter is a very noteworthy character of the story. He was a preacher of Christianity. At the moment Jim meets Tom Joad, he states that there is nothing as powerful as human nature. He says that he has never met God. He sees people and loves them. However, Steinbeck expresses an idea that people should be self-confident instead of placing all their trust in God since he believes that the Lord is in all people.

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John Steinbeck tells us a story about the destiny of the Joads. They are one of the millions who appeared victims of the economic crisis of the 30s. After their son Tom returns from imprisonment, they take their stuff and leave the west seeking for the worthy life in California. However, the road carries them to disillusionment since their way to the American Dream presents them with the lack of money and absence of work. Nevertheless, the consciousness of people changes. They do not become cruel. As a matter of fact, they begin to appreciate solidarity and unity more and more despite the fact that the road to the American Dream challenges them by illnesses, deaths and other loses. California meets the Joads by dispelling their desires. The situation the family face is a tragedy of the whole American nation. It can be said without hesitation that the US were utterly astonished during the Great Depression. The minister of agriculture issued an edict to erase resources of rice, wheat and coffee. Everything was aimed at establishing the policy of adjustment of prices. The picture looked even more immoral in cases people died just in the middle of the street from hunger and typhus. Thus, California does not offer the Joads anything except the degrading existence.

The novel pulls the reader into deep thoughts about human powerlessness. All representatives of the Joads family are ready to work hard. They reconcile with real challenges and great loses in Oklahoma. Instead of changes for the better, they experience defeat and really can do nothing with it. At the same time, they still have ambitions for the brighter future: they plan to move to another city and save some money. The family do not give up achieving their American Dream. Instead of high income, California offers them salary that is worth nothing but a smile. The trick is that the Joads are ready to meet all the challenges without any wish to resist. As a result, the family collapses. Children leave their parents, and only their older son Tom decides to fight for human rights. He says he wants to earn for house and eat the deserved bread. It is paradoxically, but Tom fights for the opportunity to have a chance to live as a worthy man. His idea of the American Dream was built upon the principles of equality and ability to achieve success with the help of hard work. However, its ideals undergo scruple in the matter of faith. Though the American Dream makes promises that each of the citizens will be able to move up to the higher social status, the USA of the 30s does not even give a chance to work.

All the characters of The Grapes of Wrath are described with the great mastership of the author. The bright example is a mother of the Joads. She is a soul of the whole family and a woman with a strong will. She is clever and has unfailing belief in the humanity. The mother is always the one to stay calm and reasonable. She clearly understands that her inner anxiety influences the atmosphere in the family. Thus, the woman supports everyone with her optimism and positivism. Ma Joad says to her son Tom that they are stronger than rich people because they are the people of great endurance. It should be stated that these are not just words. The woman believes that they can cope with everything with the help of unity and assistance. She carries the idea of family traditions during the whole story.

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At the same time, the tragedy of the Joads is not limited by the aspect of family relations. It is closely connected with the important events of those times. John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath with a deep sociological sense. The story telling about the Joads is combined with some chapters of journalistic genre. They are both specific and full of passion. These chapters are tools that help the author to express his ideas straight to the reader. This form of address raises problematic aspects of poverty, unfair policy of banks and monopolies. The author talks about the grapes of wrath that settle in the hearts of the American citizens. Such digression from the family history can be considered as formalism. The important thing is that Steinbeck does not pretend to invent new intricate words and sentences. His formalism is exposed by the composition of the story when the mythic road to the American Dream is combined with the journalistic monologues.


The story is a saga about the real America during the Great Depression of the 30s. The author was blamed for lie because The Grapes of Wrath was unacceptable for the government of the country. All the naturalism of the story infringes upon the prestige and fame of the US. The worst thing is that nobody cares about ordinary citizens. Luckily, the reader is clever enough to understand where the truth is. From the very first pages, we find ourselves on the fields of Oklahoma because of the detailed descriptions of the author. Up to the end, readers see the unfairness and sufferings of the farmers. The Joads family are described very vividly and seem real and alive. John Steinbeck uses understandable language to tell people about the grapes of wrath that were provoked by inequality and different conflicts. This method makes the story very close to the readers. Despite the fact that the Great Depression happened a long time ago, the issues it caused are still relevant today. However, people have to remember that they are strong enough to overcome difficulties. In addition, they should not forget about the unity that means we can do more being together. Such mythical things as the American Dream can be only desires that encourage people. Everything still depends on the chance, sense of morality and cooperation.