Jim Casey: a Hero in Death

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Sarah Anderson
AP Lit & Comp
Jim Casy: A leader in Death
The definition of leader a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. The verb to lead can mean to set a process in motion. I think that both of these definitions can be seen in Jim Casy. As a main character in John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, Jim constantly makes light of major themes, specifically that human life is as sacred as any divinity and that a single life has little purpose unless it takes part in, and contributes to, a greater community. These ruminations play a huge role in the transformation of Tom Joad into a social activist. Tom’s newfound commitment to a better future indicates that Casy was truly a leader and teacher even though he questioned his calling. Jim Casy shows his belief in the power of selfless devotion to others by joining the cause to help the people, and even in death, leads Tom and others to join as well When we first meet the character of Jim Casy, he is very unsure of himself. Jim is a “Christian” man with a lecherous side. After much fornication he begins to question whether he really can lead the people. “I wouldn’ take the good ol’ gospel that was just layin’ there to my hand. I got to be pickin’ at it an’ workin’ at it until I got it all tore down. Here I got the sperit sometimes an’ nothin’ to preach about. I got the call to lead the people, an’ no place to lead ‘em (Steinbeck, 21).” This quote is a perfect example of Jim Casy’s mindset. He was a preacher who felt that he could not lead his congregation. Once Jim joins the Joad family on their journey to California, his mindset changes. He begins to see the good in the “common man” and decides that together people can create change. “I got thinkin’ how we was holy when we was one thing, an’ mankin’ was holy when it was one thing. An’ it on’y got unholy when one mis’able little fella got the bit in his teeth an’ run off his own way, kickin’ an’ draggin’ an’...
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