The Grapes of Wrath

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The novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck has many themes, but one theme the story is centralized around is the role of Christianity. The role of Christianity in The Grapes of Wrath is what allows the people to keep going during the times of the Great Depression. Without religion, the families in the novel would have simply given up all faith and hope.

Like many events in the novel, many characters in Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath symbolize the theme of Christianity. The most obvious character would be that of Jim Casy. Jim Casy was previously a preacher, but he gave up preaching because he felt he had sinned. He travels with the Joad family on their journey to California, and although he insists that he has given up his counseling past, he continues to act as a preacher for the Joad family.

Although the other characters in the novel symbolizing religious acts are not main characters, they do play an important role in the thread of the theme. An example of such a character would be the woman that shows up when Grandma is dying. The woman, who Ma refers to as a "Jehovite" is dressed all in black, the skin on her face sagging, and she has loose lips that hang over her teeth. She expresses to Ma and Rose of Sharon that they should pray for Grandma, and that they should have faith to move on. Steinbeck introduces this woman to the readers to symbolize death and the ability to move on in peace.

Events such as the strange woman appearing before Grandma's death and Jim Casy's preaching reinforce the purpose of religion for the migrating poor in the novel of The Grapes of Wrath. Religion allows the migrating poor to continue their journey to a "better" life. Throughout the novel the people, such as the Joad family, encounter many hardships. Several other families who have already been to California, in search of the same "paradise" the Joad's are in search of, found exactly the opposite. The Joad's are advised of this problem, but because...
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