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Reflection of Society in the "Grapes of Wrath"

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Reflection of Society in The Grapes of Wrath Throughout the daily ordeals of society, people face numerous societal problems. It is inevitable that we, as civilized animals, encounter such global problems. Some express their views upon societal problems through media, while others utilize means such as literature to express their personal opinions on them. John Steinbeck is one author who enthusiastically proclaims his views upon such issues through literature. He zealously depicts such perspectives through symbolism in his writings, especially, the thought-provoking novel, The Grapes of Wrath. The final statements of The Grapes of Wrath clearly portray the usage of symbolism by John Steinbeck to produce the effect of reflecting the societal impediments of his days. This can be seen through the religious, humanitarian, and feminine aspects of the text. The final statements of The Grapes of Wrath convey information beyond the one chapter that it is bound by in the novel. This refers to the terminating chapter, which contains the juices of the novel. After three days of raining, the Joads fear that the creek will flood. However, Rose of Sharon goes into labor, and the Joads cannot leave. Pa Joad and the rest of the men at the camp attempts to stop the flooding of the river by building an embankment in the river. Pa, Al, and Uncle John reach the boxcar and find that Rose of Sharon delivered a stillborn baby. Uncle John places the stillborn in an apple box and floats it downstream. The family finds a barn for refuge until the rain stops. ...read more.


She has risked her own life, stability, and health by giving those nutritious breast-milks. She did not have to take such actions. No one forced her to. However, she committed such actions because she had felt the strong moral obligation to help those in need. Steinbeck urges the general population to turn to humanitarian and moralistic obligations not only in the final statements of The Grapes of Wrath, but also throughout the general course of the story. Steinbeck?s hidden meaning is visible through the action by the Joads of helping the Wilsons. According to Cederstrom, ??the depiction of the Joads helping the Wilsons, despite the fact that the Joads themselves are in dire poverty and conditions explicitly go against the social paradigm of Steinbeck?s days of egotism and selfishness.? Indeed, during the Great Depression, people?s selfishness and egotism rose significantly. This phenomenon can be understood as everyone was scrambling for money and to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. For example according to The Grapes of Wrath: ?Al said finally, ?We got an overload, but Mr. an? Mis? Wilson ain?t. If some of us folks could ride with them an? take some a their light stuff in the truck, we wouldn?t break no springs an? we could git up hills?? Wilson settled back uneasily, ?Well, I dunno..Well, ya see-I on?y got ?bout thirty dollars lef?, an? I won?t be no burden.? Ma said, ?You won?t be no burden. Each?ll help each an? we?ll all git to California? (202). The Joads and the Wilsons both are in dire situations. ...read more.


With enhanced economic positions, it was possible for women to make their voices heard in an invigorated manner. Also, the 19th amendment calling for national woman suffrage had just recently been passed in 1913, further strengthening woman?s status in society. In conclusion, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck clearly reflects the social phenomena of his days, during the Great Depression. The tears, fraud, and dreams are the major ideas. The tears of the ?Okies? fleeing from the financially devastated regions of the Great Plains to the fertile regions of California in dreams of reviving their families is clearly conveyed in this novel. The fraud that exists in the advertisements of job opportunities and the dreams the people still cling on to on those advertisements for jobs are shown. People in such devastating conditions can do anything. In the final statements of the novel, a hungry man is also in a desperate state and ignores his moral justifications and drink breast milk from a woman, Rose of Sharon. This scene is like a condensed version of the novel, with all aspects of religion, moralistic obligations, and feminism covered. Mr. Ditsky?s views upon the aforementioned issues were all valid, especially upon the topic of religion. Also, Mr. Cederstrom?s views on moralistic obligations were also very valid. Through such careful descriptions and thoughts behind the storyline, John Steinbeck has respectfully earned the heart of the audience and readers who will sooner or later read The Grapes of Wrath. One cannot stop himself from hoping that we will not fall into the negative traps of our human nature that were present by the general population during the Great Depression again in 21st century. ...read more.

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