Grapes of Wrath

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How does John Steinbeck portray Jim Casey as a Christ figure in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath?

In his novel, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck brings a variety of diverse characters to the reader. The majority of these characters' individuality lies within whom they symbolize. What I'm trying to say is that the character in the novel represents another being outside of the novel. For example, the former preacher Jim Casey who is also a good friend of the Joads may to some readers represent Jesus Christ. In the novel, Jim Casey brings along religious stability and hope to the families migrating West. I believe there are many "hints" or ways that Steinbeck shows this representation throughout the novel, and in this report I will show you examples of why I believe this.

Every author gets the privilege to give their choice of names to the characters in their novels. With that said, there are twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and a surplus of names to go with every letter. Steinbeck though manages to give Jim Casey the exact initials as the biblical savior, Jesus Christ. Coincidence? I think not. Steinbeck is a Stanford graduate and a very intelligent man who voices his opinion without worrying about what his critics will think. I believe he knew exactly what he was doing.

If you believe my first point is a coincidence, consider this. Jim Casey and Jesus Christ have many similarities, which extend past "coincidental" initials. For example, Casey states that he drifted out to the forests in order to "soul-search" and discover the answers to sometime hidden questions, much like Jesus Christ did. In this particular situation, Casey himself states the comparisons between his actions and the actions of Christ while giving grace at the Joad's breakfast table. In Chapter Eight of the novel, Jim Casey says, "…I been in the hills, thinkin' almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles"....
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