Rhetorical Analysis of the Grapes of Wrath

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September 7th, 2012

Rhetorical Analysis of The Grapes of Wrath

The dust bowl was a tragic time in America for so many families and John Steinbeck does a great job at getting up-close and personal with one family to show these tragedies. In the novel, “The Grapes of Wrath”, John Steinbeck employed a variety of rhetorical devices, such as asyndeton, personification and simile, in order to persuade his readers to enact positive change from the turmoil of the Great Depression. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck tells the fictional narrative of Tom Joad and his family, while exploring social issues and the hardships of families who had to endure the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Steinbeck’s purpose was to challenge readers to look at the harsh realities around them for “the purpose of improvement”. The rhetorical strategies used in the “Grapes of Wrath” elicit a deeper understanding from its readers for the hardships these migrants faced and helped them to fight for a better way. (John Steinbeck, "Banquet Speech," Nobel Foundation, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1962/steinbeck-speech.html, Accessed 30 August 2013.) Asyndeton is the absences of conjunctions. Its use is for the purpose to create the feeling that a list is not complete, or to add a climatic effect to create empathy in a reader. Steinbeck employed this strategy in a variety of ways, such as “Joad looked into the bedroom-no bed, no chair, nothing.” (Steinbeck,42) Readers can feel the emptiness that Tom Joad felt. They can look around their own bedroom and imagine what it would be like if it was empty. The empty feeling on the outside also mimics the empty feeling you would feel on the inside, feelings that don’t end. “And the tenant men came walking back, hands in their pockets, hats pulled down.” (Steinbeck,. 87) Again, readers can feel the sadness, the dejected attitude, their shame. It is through our emotions, our feelings, that we make changes. Emotions help...
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