The Grapes of Wrath

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Calendar icon Publication date: April 14, 1939

Theatrical masks Genre: Novel

Author icon Author: John Steinbeck

Сharacter icon Сharacters: Tom Joad, Ma Joad, Pa Joad, Uncle John, Jim Casy, Al Joad, Rose of Sharon, etc.

Base icon Based on: The novel is based on the struggles of farmers and other workers through the Great Depression and their attempts to survive the lack of jobs and starvation.

Symbols icon Symbols: Pregnancy, the death of Joad's dog, Christian imagery, etc.

Influence icon Influence: Steinbeck used Sanora Babb's notes on the lives and experiences of work migrants that later turned into her novel Whose Names Are Unknown. The Grapes of Wrath is considered a development of Steinback's series of articles, The Harvest Gypsies, published in San Francisco News in 1936.

Book icon Plot: The novel follows Tom Joad, a recent parolee, who joins his family on a trip from their foreclosed farm in Oklahoma to California, where they hope to find jobs to survive. Throughout the cross-country journey, the family loses many members, and their life in California is ripe with exploitation and starvation. Yet, despite their struggles, they continue to survive and stay together.

Fact icon Interesting facts:

Check mark Steinback struggled to develop a suitable title for the novel, and his wife, Carol, suggested The Grapes of Wrath.

Check mark The book is often referred to as the Great American Novel. It is one of the most discussed works of American Literature.

Check mark The novel was written off as "communist propaganda" by those not depicted favorably in the book, including Californian farmers.

Check mark Some critics consider the Joad family's trip to California as a reversal of the slaves' exodus from Egypt.

Check mark The first movie adaptation of the book came out in 1940, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.

Quote icon Quotes:

Check mark "There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do."

Check mark "How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?"

Check mark "The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I" and cuts you off forever from the "we."

Check mark "Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother."

Check mark "Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this is man."

Check mark "How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him – he has known a fear beyond every other."

Exclamation point Why this topic is important: The novel remains relevant in the 21st century, as millions face the same struggles as the Joad family, trying to survive and keep their children fed. In addition, Steinbeck highlights cruelty and exploitation, which remain a problem in many parts of the world.

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More Inspiring Essay Topics for The Grapes of Wrath

If none of the essay samples in our database tickled your imagination, here's a list of hand-picked essay topics for The Grapes of Wrath you may find more exciting:

  1. Disillusionment of the American Dream in The Grapes of Wrath
  2. The symbolism and meaning of the title of The Grapes of Wrath
  3. The contrasting portrayal of the roles of women and men in The Grapes of Wrath
  4. Analyzing the realistic aspects of capitalism portrayal in The Grapes of Wrath
  5. The impact of the Great Depression on individuals and families through the lens of The Grapes of Wrath
  6. The meaning of family and community in The Grapes of Wrath
  7. The evolution of the Joad family throughout the story
  8. Religious symbolism and connotations in The Grapes of Wrath
  9. The roles of race and education in the events of The Grapes of Wrath
  10. The impact of industrialization on the characters of The Grapes of Wrath
  11. The portrayal of social injustice in The Grapes of Wrath
  12. The significance of Ma Joad's character to the storyline
  13. The symbolism of Rose of Sharon's pregnancy in The Grapes of Wrath
  14. The development of improvised leadership structures throughout The Grapes of Wrath
  15. The dignity and value of human life among the members of the Joad family

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