Grapes of Wrath The Theme of Transition
Grapesof Wrath: The Theme of Transition
Theliterature works of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” areinteresting and they present a unique style of presenting issuesamidst massive transitions from scene to scene. The action startsduring the Great Depression that occurred between 1929 and 1939. TheJoads are outlined as the main characters in the story outliningtheir plights, challenges, struggles and even triumphs from onewindow period to another. The end of the First World War saw theprosperity of the American agriculture (Cable, 2014). As aresult, the American Agricultural industry saw it worth to borrowmore land and machinery. However, it was not long that Europerecovered from the great depression and thus resulting to the fall indemand of Agricultural products in America, including wheat and corn.The land owners could not repay their loans and their land was thusconfiscated and the sharecroppers who worked for them evictedapparently, the Joads fell in that category. The article looks atoutlining the transitions that the author has used in the literatureand how it applies to the characters involved, as well as the contextof the events in “Grape of Wrath”.
Thejourney of the Joads from Oklahoma to California is not an easy one.The narrator outlines the hardships the Joads face as they make thetransition from an impoverished life that ensued as a result of beingevicted from the farm that they worked. The author shows a personaltransition of the Joad family members as well as the Joad family as agroup. One of the main transitions is depicted by Tom. He was anex-convict once jailed for seven years only to be released afterserving four of them for killing a person in self-defence(Cable, 2014). He is initially a selfish man who cares lessabout others but as time goes on, it seems that the prison taught hima lesson and is prompted to champion for the rights of the workers,as a way of continuing with Jim Casy`s work. He seems committed tobetter not only his future, but that of others too. Tom is thustransitioned from a lonely, self-cantered man to an active humanrights activist through public action (Steinbeck et al, 2016).
Theother major transition is shown by Ma Joad, she is a loving woman whois determined to keep her family intact. As the journey to the westheats up, she gradually transitions from an inactive house wife tothe active leader of the Joad family as Pa Joad becomes less and lessactive. In the face of any turmoil, she seems to keep herselftogether and her family too, as the family crosses the Californiadesert (Ford et al, 2013). She disguisedly mourns her mother, MaJoad, as she rides along with her corpse and is not ready to show anyweakness that may deter her family from making it to California,where the lure of job opportunities prompted their new cause andimmigration. She is seen to have self-sacrifice for the well-being ofher family and shows grace and empathy when she feeds hungry childreneven though her own family did not have enough to eat (Steinbeck etal, 2016).
Initially,when the great depression starts and the families in Oklahoma areforced to migrate to California, Pa Joad is seen as a strong, caringand a protective family leader. He becomes the mastermind and plannerof the great journey in search for new jobs. However, he is seen totransit from a competent and active family leader to a lonely,self-pitying man who relents to his own thoughts and loses grip ofhis family`s control by becoming less and less effective. However,his wife steps up to fill the leadership void that he creates(Steinbeck et al, 2016). Ironically, the hardships of the journey‘builds a character` in Ma Joad, Rose of Sharon and Tom, but itbreaks the spirit of Pa Joad who is eventually unable to support hisfamily and eventually gets paralyzed (Cable, 2014).
Roseof Sharon is Tom Joad`s kid sister once married to Connie Rivers. Shedepicts a unique transition from a high-spirited, immature and fancylife to a calm, reliable generous woman after getting pregnant. Thisis realized after going through the harsh experiences of the journeyin the immigrant camps. The transition of her character from a‘hoyden` to a kind and caring woman is catalyzed by her bitter lossof her stillborn baby. She demonstrates empathy and generosity byfeeding a starving man with her breast milk. All in all, the Joadsfamily collectively transitions from scattered and self-canteredfamily members to a consolidated and united family by the time theyreached California. The hardships of the journey, such as losing bothGranma and Grandpa Joad on the road, had brought them together. Roseof Sharon loses her baby which is stillborn and Tom leaves the familyto fight for the plights of the workers so as to continue Casy`scause. Moreover, Connie leaves the family on the basis that theJoads were always on the move, they never settled (Steinbeck et al,2016).
Therefore,Steinbeck shows a general family transition that shakes Ma Joadgreatly. The huge family starts growing smaller as family membersstart transitioning to different causes. Her efforts to keep thefamily together are discouraged, though not to a point of giving up,especially when Grandma and Grandpa leaves via death. As a result ofthe constant movements of the Joads, Connie leaves abandons his wifeand never returns (Cable, 2014). Noah also decides to follow hisown path and leaves. On the other hand, Tom leaves as he feels thathe will be able to make change by being out there rather than beingconfined to a smaller cause of his family he felt obligated topropagate Casy`s efforts in fighting for the rights of the oppressedworkers. The transition here is from a smaller cause to a biggercause where each of the individuals felt the need to become proactivein the society (Ford et al, 2013).
Theauthor also plots his narration in such a manner that it showstransition of the community from an evil and selfish society drivenby the greed of the landowners` sustenance of a system that sinks theaverage people into poverty, to the display of a struggling communitythat is willing to be kind to each other, encouraging family unityand even the devotion to care for the plights of others.Self-interest and altruism clash with selflessness and liberationefforts this is shown when Tom decides to advocate for the plightsof the workers who were always oppressed and treated unfairly by thelandowners (Ford et al, 2013). On the other hand, Sharon shows hercompassion and selflessness when she decides to feed a starving manwith her breast milk. It is a transition from a society that was onceself-cantered and divided to one which cares about the needs ofothers (Cable, 2014).
Thetheme of transition has been repeated severally by Steinbeck to showthe progress that the Joads were making in search for a better lifeand the challenges they were facing and the way they helped transformtheir way of thinking, their character and moral values asindividuals. The outcomes are seen to be great transitions from poorto better livelihood, improvement in the way of thinking, realizationof purpose in life and even better interaction with other people inthe society. The author utilizes the theme of transition effectivelyto show a society and a family that is progressing, moving from astate of disunity, self-centeredness, and oppression to a unified,collaborative and concerned society and family willing to assist eachother. It has also been used to show how resilience changed thecharacter of the Joads.
Cable, B.(2014). Grapes Of Wrath. Pickle Partners Publishing.
Ford, J.,Johnson, N., Fonda, H., Darwell, J., Carradine, J.,& Steinbeck, J. (2013). The grapes of wrath.
Steinbeck,John, Bergl, & Emily. (2016). The Grapes of Wrath.Brilliance Audio.
No related posts.