Grapes of Wrath Marxist Criticism
The book The Grapes of Wrath uses the theme of social and class struggles to effectively convey the main idea of the book. The differences between social and economic classes are frequently demonstrated in the book. Steinbeck heavily relies on these to evoke sympathy within the reader, and consequently, cause the reader to better understand the themes of the book. The theme that is clearly the most important in the book is the one about the hardships of the migrants. Steinbeck obviously wanted to make the reader understand how the migrants endured many adversities and sacrificed much in order to try to have a better life for themselves and their families. He also wanted to leave the reader with an understanding of how much fortitude and determination the migrants had. In order to create sympathy within the ...view middle of the document...
They also eat a very simple and low-class meal, as shown when Steinbeck writes: “He reached down, picked up his sack, and emptied it on the porch. Two cottontails and a jackrabbit fell out and rolled over limply, soft and furry” (Steinbeck 49). This basic description of the soon-to-be migrants’ lives makes the reader evokes compassion and pity within the reader. Steinbeck further describes the condition of the migrant class when Tom and Jim visit the rest of the Joads at Uncle John’s house. When Tom meets his mother, Steinbeck writes: “She moved back to the stove and dumped the big pan of bulbous biscuits on two tin plates” (Steinbeck 77). The fact that the family is reduced to using simple tin plates is enough to make the reader sympathetic for the migrant class. After describing the migrant class, Steinbeck then begins to explain the struggles between the two classes. For example, when a police deputy visits Hooverville to settle a false riot about fair wages for fruit-pickers, Tom and Jim become involved in the struggle. Steinbeck writes: “The deputy, sitting on the ground, raised his gun again and then, suddenly, from the group of men, the Revered Casy stepped. He kicked the deputy in the neck and then stood back as the heavy man crumpled into unconsciousness” (Steinbeck 264). This is one of the first points in the book where the migrant class fights
Garg 3 back against the upper class. This small yet meaningful clash is sure to evoke strong compassion for the migrants and disgust for the upper class, which is what Steinbeck intends. In conclusion, I believe that Steinbeck used the theme of struggles between social and economic classes very effectively. I don’t believe it would be too bold of me to say that Steinbeck was a genius for using such a valuable tool to convey the themes of the book to the reader. He successfully created a mixture of strong emotions within me, and I assume that there would be a similar result among most other readers.