An Analysis of the Grapes of Wrath

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Mackenzie Allison
Per. 1
4 - 4 - 11
G.W. essay

Grapes of wrath
“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue”

Through out John Steinbeck’s controversial novel, The Grapes of Wrath, the protagonist are faced with a daunting idea; that there is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forces in the world. Grapes of Wrath was published in an era filled with discrimination, hate, and fear directed at the fleeing “Okies”; in the early 1930’s the midwestern states where decimated by a foreseen but still devastating Dust Bowl. The reader joins the main characters, the Joad family, as they travel across the country hoping for work in a foreign state; California. Through out their trip they seem to come to believe that “there ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue” just people doing what people do. Yet the more they seem to believe this, the more the reader begins to see that there is in-fact a drastic flaw in their ideology. People do do horrible and good things, but those are what prove that Sin and Virtue do exist.

The Joad family are, as a whole, virtuous. Although they sin frequently in during the course of the novel, they are not unscrupulous people. They prove throughout the novel that you can still be virtuous and be a sinner, that these two things do exist. When Tom Joad attacks a man for killing Jim Casey he “bust[s] his head...”(pg. 532), and although his action of killing the man may not be virtuous, the fact that he was trying to defend a friend was. Another character that is virtuous, although he doesn’t believe in virtue or sin, is Jim Casey. He takes the blame when a man talks back to a police officer, in order to save the Joads when Tom helps the man. (p.g. 362) And for all that virtue the reader witnesses by the dirty, dubious“Okies”, sin is still seen in the good upstanding citizens of this novel.

Steinbeck portrays the Migrant farmers as a bath of misunderstood wanderers, while describing the local citizens as hostile assailants. The police always seem to...
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