Grapes Of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is a novel by John Steinbeck that exposes the desperate
conditions under which the migratory farm families of America during the 1930's
lived. The novel tells of one family's migration west to California through the
great economic depression of the 1930's. The bank took possession of their land
because the owners could not pay off their loan. The novel shows how the Joad
family deals with moving to California, and how they survive the cruelty of the
landowners that took advantage of them, their poverty, and willingness to work.

The Grapes of Wrath combines Steinbeck adoration of the land, his simple hatred
of corruption; resulting from materialism (money), and his abiding faith in the
common people to overcome the hostile environment. The novel opens with a
retaining picture of nature on rampage. The novel shows the men and women that
are unbroken by nature. The theme is one of man verses a hostile environment.

His body destroyed but his spirit is not broken. The method used to develop the
theme of the novel is through the use of symbolism. There are several uses of
symbols in the novel from the turtle at the beginning to the rain at the end. As
each symbol is presented through the novel they show examples of the good and
the bad things that exist within the novel. The opening chapter paints a vivid
picture of the situation facing the drought-stricken farmers of Oklahoma. Dust
is described as covering everything, smothering the life out of anything that
wants to grow. The dust is symbolic of the erosion of the lives of the people.

The dust is synonymous with "deadness". The land is a ruined way of
life (farming), people uprooted and forced to leave. Secondly, the dust stands
for profiteering banks in the background that squeeze the life out the land by
forcing the people off the land. The soil, the people (farmers), have been
drained of life and are exploited: The last rain fell on the red and gray
country of Oklahoma in early May. The weeds became a dark green to protect
themselves from the sun's unyielding rays... The wind grew stronger, uprooting
the weakened corn, and the air became so filled with dust that the stars were
not visible at night. As the book continues a turtle, which appears and
reappears several times early in the novel, can be seen as standing for
survival, a driving life force in all of mankind that cannot be beaten by nature
or man. The turtle represents a hope that the trip to the west is survivable by
the Joad family. The turtle further represents the migrants struggles against
nature/man by overcoming every obstacle he encounters: the red ant in his path,
the truck driver who tries to run over him, being captured in Tom Joad's jacket:

And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the driver saw the turtle
and swerved to hit it. The driver of the truck works for a large company, who
try to stop the migrants from going west, when the driver attempts to hit the
turtle it is another example of the big powerful guy trying to flatten or kill
the little guy. Steadily the turtle advances on, ironically to the southwest,
the direction of the migration of people. The turtle is described as being
lasting, ancient, old and wise: horny head, yellowed toenails, indestructible
high dome of a shell, humorous old eyes. The driver of the truck, red ant, and

Tom Joad's jacket are all symbolic of nature and man trying to stop the turtle
from continuing his journey westward to the promise land. The turtle helps to
develop the theme by showing its struggle against life comparing it with the

Joad struggle against man. The grapes seem to symbolize both bitterness and
copiousness. Grandpa, the oldest member of the Joad family, talks of the grapes
as symbols of plenty; all his descriptions of what he is going to do with the
grapes in California suggest contentment, freedom, the goal for which the Joad
family strive for. The grapes that are talked about by Grandpa help to elaborate
the theme by showing that no matter how nice everything seems in California, the
truth is that their beauty is only skin deep, in their souls they are rotten.

The willow tree that is located on the Joad's farm represents the Joad family.

The willow is described as being unmovable and never bending to the wind or
dust. The Joad family does not want