Rhetorical Analysis- the Grapes of Wrath

Topics: John Steinbeck, Rhetoric, Fruit Pages: 3 (957 words) Published: October 21, 2010
Rhetorical Analysis- The Grapes of Wrath

“You don’ know what you’re a-doin’,” were Casy’s last words before he died as a martyr. Casy died for his cause, his belief that the elite were not truly aware of how their greed was causing the suffering of the weak and that the weak could only surpass their sorrows if they worked together. Steinbeck uses chapter 25 of Grapes of Wrath to portray this very message. Steinbeck uses an array of rhetorical devices such as symbolism and the use of a instructive tone which gives the reader a sense of being sermonized to portray the greed of the elite and how that fuels the wrath of the weak, while also empowering the weak to join together and warning the elite of the inevitable consequences of their greed.

Steinbeck begins the chapter with splendid imagery to depict a beautiful and prosperous California. He describes the produce that is raised and the scientists that dedicate themselves to create produce that is ripe, healthy, and impervious to disease. There is a shift, however, when he begins to describe how the fruit is rotting. Although, Steinbeck began the chapter with positive descriptive words, such as “blossoms,” “swells,” and “clusters,” he ends the chapter with words such as “burn,” “decay,” and “sorrow.” This sense of organization strongly depicts how the greed of the elite is impacting California. The shift portrays how a once prosperous state is rotting due to the insatiable greed of the elite. The greed is not only impacting the produce but those that depend on it. Their refusal to employ the workers at the right wages results in dying children and the people suffering from never-ending hunger. His use of positive words at the beginning of the chapter shows the good of the land when it is being used for growing nutrients while the shift from positive to negative tones shows the consequence of manipulating the land for profit. Steinbeck’s choice of words helps the audience grasp the greed and...
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