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Research paper on some aspect of John Steinbeck's life or work - Essay Example

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John Steinbeck’s Commitment to Justice for the Poor. The title of John Steinbeck’s famous novel The Grapes of Wrath uses the terminology of the Bible to recall images of revenge and suffering, in which the blood of human beings is pressed out by an angry God…
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Research paper on some aspect of John Steinbecks life or work
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Download file to see previous pages The book stands as a testimony to their suffering and makes the reader think about the reasons which caused this to happen, and whether the people are victims of God, or fate, or of economic and political forces that exploit the poor and the weak in society. The main characters in the book are members of the Joad family, and each one is introduced sympathetically, starting with young Tom Joad who has just been released from prison, and moving on to his father Old Tom Joad, and his mother. The physical descriptions of the people express the moral qualities that they cling to despite all the hardship, for example we can see in the depiction of Tom’s mother that her solid body represents her role as the foundation upon which the whole family depends: “... her strong, broad, bare feet moved quickly and deftly over the floor ... Strong, freckled arms were bare to the elbow... Her full face was not soft; it was controlled, kindly...” (Steinbeck, 2002, p. 74) In this world of economic hardship, and ecological disaster, the gender roles are somewhat reversed, since the men cannot provide for their families any more in the traditional ways of having a job or working the land. Granma and Grampa are caricatures of an older generation of rural Americans, and this is conveyed in their characteristically mischievous (Grampa) or religious (Granma) behaviors, and also in the quaint, old-fashioned language that they use. Granma exclaims when she sees young Tom: “Pu-raise Gawd fur vittory” (Steinbeck, 2002, p. 78) and the spelling here shows that the author is taking great trouble to try and represent the dialect of this period and place. There is also a hint in this unusual spelling, that the people being described here are not well educated, and cannot be blamed for the difficulties that they find themselves having to face. What becomes apparent all too soon, is that the whole of society is on the brink of collapse, and the poor are at the bottom of the heap and have the least chance of surviving. Steinbeck gives them a voice through these fictional characters, and by maintaining a plot that is very true to life, he also makes sure that lessons are remembered and passed down for future generations. The fact that Steinbeck himself was a science graduate who enjoyed a relatively privileged lifestyle in California (Gray, 2004, p. 497) makes this realism all the more admirable, because he must have had to do considerable research to understand the problems faced by people in the situations described in the novel. The portrayals are affectionate, and the fact that both of the grandparent generation are dead before the story gets very far adds to the pathos of the book. In fact there is a great deal of physical suffering, illness and death in The Grapes of Wrath, as if to make it plain to wealthier Americans in later decades just how much suffering took place in recent historical times. People die of cancer, babies are stillborn, and whole families are wiped out by starvation. It is hard to imagine a grittier portrayal of American life. In the hands of some writers the long journey towards California looking for any kind of farming work would be an inspirational tale of the indomitable American spirit overcoming hardship and finally making dreams come true. Steinbeck does not paint this kind of idealized picture, however, and he stresses the harsh realities rather ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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