Grapes of Wrath

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Throughout John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, many concepts appear that were noted in How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. However, the three chapters of Foster’s how-to guide that most apply to Steinbeck’s novel were “It’s All About Sex…,” “Every Trip is a Quest (Except When It’s Not),” and “It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow.” On more than one occasion these concepts are hidden within the book, and two of them actually seem somewhat linked together. After reading between the lines, The Grapes of Wrath has an extremely intricate plot and many ulterior meanings. Foster’s book helps to solve these meanings and make it so that the novel can be completely understood.

According to How to Read Literature Like a Professor, “sex doesn’t have to look like sex.” In fact, during the 1930’s when The Grapes of Wrath was published, writers weren’t allowed to include any straightforward sexual scenes in their novels. Writers then found a way to get around this restriction by hiding these scenes behind perfectly normal behavior. The first time this is seen in Steinbeck’s novel occurs in Chapter 15 when the Joad family stops at a small hamburger stand. In this stand, there are two employees, Mae and Al. Al clearly has feelings for the character Mae, feelings which Mae doesn’t notice. Steinbeck describes how Al “looks up at the vivaciousness in Mae’s voice.” He then goes into a graphic description of Al going about his job. This description includes the line, “He lays the split buns on the plate to toast and heat,” and many other overly descriptive actions. Although they appear to be normal, no writer would go through all that trouble to describe an action unless it meant more than what it appeared to be. In this case, Steinbeck obviously implies that there is sexual tension between Al and Mae.

After this happening, there does not appear to be any more hidden scenes until Chapter 23. Instead of a food description, Steinbeck describes a dance...
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