Family Unit in the Grapes of Wrath

Topics: Family, The Grapes of Wrath, Great Depression Pages: 17 (6019 words) Published: January 13, 2013

I dedicate this humble work to those whose blood runs in my veins; to my dearly loved parents and to:

my dearest sisters all fundamental B.A student all my delighted and respected English teachers all those who will read this modest research paper


I’m foremost grateful to my supervisor Dr. YASSINE Rachida whose guidance and continual encouragement have efficaciously helped towards the fulfillment of this modest research paper. I would like also to thank deeply whose efforts in class room opened my eyes and inspired the idea and the subject of this research paper, namely: Mr. ELHAMRI Rachid. I would like as well to express my deep feelings of gratitude to my little precious family that supported me to achieve where I am today and still supporting me to the fullest, bearing in mind my treasured friends for their ongoing moral support. Finally, my thanks are devoted to all the students of the department of English at Ibn Zohr University for their appreciated suggestions while this research was under preparation.


As most of critics refer to it, The Grapes of Wrath is a master piece written by john Steinbeck, a great American writer who wrote some of the best American stories ever. This novel tells the story of the Joads, an example of what happened to families that lived in Oklahoma during the 1930s. Because of drought, dust storms, and the death of crops, the landowners had to kick the farmers off from their lands. In order to live, thousands of people moved westward and left their homes deserted for new chances of life. On their way to California, they faced many difficulties; some of them lost family members because of starvation and tiredness, and some women brought new born babies to life, and some children stole food from other’s camps in order to eat and feed their dying families. When people reached California with big dreams, ambitions and aspirations, they found out that it was not as they expected, life is harder there if not saying worst than the one they already live, crowds of poor, hungry and unemployed people staying in government camps waiting for salvation or even death, hopes and dreams were broken, many decided to go back and die in their home towns. Despite some of them had a chance to work, the wages were too low to feed a family of more than eight members. At that point in time, working class people were considered as slaves and pigs for the rich class, their struggles against the current is described by Steinbeck as a “turtle crossing the road”. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck tells us what kind of struggle the Joads confronted during their journey to live an ordinary life or more, a better one. In this Research paper I’m going to focus my attention on the concept of “family” itself and the strong union between the members of the Joads as the main drive that kept them going and fighting against all odds for their freedom and right of life thanks to “Ma” the strong, sturdy woman who is the moral center of family. This last point is what stroke me and motivated this research paper’s choice of topic, therefore my aim is to inspect first of all the importance of family in our day of age and how does individualism affects its unity and brings it down, then secondly, I will show you the example of this family unit through the work of John Steinbeck; The Grapes of Wrath by revealing everything that helped to keep the them bonded and united through the whole way to California and when they reached it. 4

PART I: Family vs. Individualism

Family in the light of individualism became more complicated and more separated than ever. In the last few centuries western families were characterized by the strength of their unity that ties them together and keep them close to each other as one vital entity that functions properly in the society, but with the rise of the ideology of individualism, family members started to break up from the usual...

References: Bibliography:
Beck Ulrich and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim, Individualization. London: Sage, 2001. Cederstorm, Lorelei. The great mother in the Grapes of Wrath. Canada: Brandon University, 1993. Etzioni, Amitai. The spirit of community: The reinvention of American society. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. Hofstede, Greet. Culture 's consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2001. Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Modern Library, 1939. Steinbeck, John and Harold Bloom, ed. The Grapes of Wrath “Bloom 's Modern Critical Interpretations”. Chelsea House Publishers, 2006.
“Family”. Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 Jun 2012. Web. 24 JUN 2012. . “Individualism”. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica., 2012. Web. 24 Jun. 2012 . Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Grapes of Wrath" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 24 Jun. 2012. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Grapes of Wrath.” SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 26 Jun. 2012.
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