Grapes

Of Wrath By John Steinbeck

It is said that everything is done for a purpose, and if that purpose is not
obvious, it could be evident within oneself. In The Grapes of Wrath, by John

Steinbeck, the story not only entails the tale of the tragically poor, but also
an uplifting sense of discovery. The story tells not only of the physical
journey to California, but of the characters' spiritual travels as well. By
examining the lives of Jim Casy, Tom Joad, and Ma Joad, one will see the
enlightening changes that mark their lives through the depression. Jim Casy's
journey is an astounding one. He begins his life as a preacher, yet decides one
day that his work is invalid; sinful, in some way. He says to Tom, "'I used
ta get the people jumpin' an' talkin' in tongues, an' glory-shoutin' till they
just fell down an' passed out. . . An' then - you know what I'd do? I'd take one
of them girls out in the grass, an' I'd lay with her. Done it ever' time. Then

I'd feel bad, an' I'd pray an' pray, but it didn't do no good. Come the nex'
time, them an' me was full of the sperit, I'd do it again. I figgered there just
wasn't no hope for me, an' I was a damned ol' hypocrite. But I didn't mean to
be.'" (Page 28) He decides that he is not noble enough to continue his
work, and grows distempered when others ask him to preach the word of God. He
spends his time with the Joad family gratefully, but little else. He does no
real work to help them out; he spends most of his time thinking to himself.

Although Casy repeatedly confesses his guilt for doing nothing for the family,
he makes no real efforts to contribute, and remains on the sidelines. However,
when Tom trips a policeman that was threatening to take everyone to the station,

Casy takes the blame. "Casy turned to Al. 'Get out,' he said. 'Go on, get
out - to the tent. You don't know nothin'.' 'Yeah? How 'bout you?' Casy grinned
at him. 'Somebody got to take the blame. I got no kids. They'll jus' put me in
jail, an' I ain't doin' nothin' but set aroun'.' Al said, 'Ain't no reason for
-' Casy said softly, 'If you mess in this your whole fambly, all your folks,
gonna get in trouble. I don' care about you. But your ma and your pa, they'll
get in trouble. Maybe they'll send Tom back to McAlester.'" (Page 342) Casy
further strengthens his morals by becoming a rebel against the authorities. He
leads a strike against a pay decrease out of a peach farm, and when men come to
do him in, he doesn't step away, but simply pleads his case. "'Listen,' he
said. 'You fellas don' know what you're doin'. You're helpin' to starve kids.'

'Shut up, you red son-of-a-bitch.' A short heavy man stepped into the light. He
carried a new white pick handle. Casy went on, 'You don' know what you're a-doin'.'"(page

495) Even as he sees the man means to do him harm, he stands his ground. He goes
from a man who felt he had no role to play in life to a martyr for the poor and
hungry. His journey is one of courage and light. Tom is a rough edged man at the
beginning of the novel. He has killed a man, and yet, seems to feel no remorse.

His reasoning behind the slaying is also less than dignified. "'I been in

McAlester them four years.' 'Ain't wanting to talk about it, huh?' (Casy asked)

'I won't ask you no questions, if you done something bad -' 'I'd do what I done
- again,' said Joad. 'I killed a guy in a fight. We was drunk at a dance. He got
a knife in me, an' I killed him with a shovel that was layin' there. Knocked his
head plumb to squash.' Casy's eyebrows resumed their normal level. 'You ain't
ashamed of nothin' then?' 'No,' said Joad. 'I ain't. I got seven years, account
of he had a knife in me. Hot out in four - parole.'" (Page 33) He seems to
perceive his misconduct as a ritual of life everyone must undergo, and this lack
of conscience shows one with little character or worthiness. However, when he
finds his family at his Uncle John's place, he dedicates his life to helping out
the family and