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Grapes of Wrath:Minor Character Analysis

By hohoho1111 Dec 19, 2013 1240 Words
The Grapes of Wrath: Minor Character Analysis
Many authors use minor characters to help the audience analyze the surface meaning and gain support of main characters in text. They briefly come out in the novel but have a huge impact in the plot of the book. John Steinbeck, in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, demonstrates that minor characters represent a major significance to the story as a whole. He portrays Muley Graves as a minor character in the novel that chooses to stay on his land and refuses to leave anywhere else to emphasize his pride, stubbornness, and fear. Muley Graves represents all the migrant workers during this time, this teaches readers the difficult decision that migrant men had to answer to and take action towards and how a group of united people may be the best choice. Muley Graves’ pride widely affected him, which led to the separation of family and showed his need to maintain his family’s tradition.. Muley Graves, like any other man, loves his family and would do anything for them, but the place he grew up in is just too important to let go. Muley Graves had the choice to leave with his family but chose to stay on his land. Making this sacrifice was obviously not easy, but it was a choice he made in order to stand by his home, “I couldn’, said Muley Graves. Somepin jus’wouldn’ let me” (48) shows just how important his home is to him. Leaving family behind is never easy and for Muley Graves that was a huge sacrifice.. Muley describes his family’s hardships and success that they had on this land, he has a family history and this is his home no matter what the circumstances may be, “I ain’t a-goin. My pa comes here fifty years ago. An’ I ain’t a goin” (pg. 47) emphasizes the deep connection that this man had to his home. Muley Graves is aware that he can possibly gain new opportunities out in the west but refuses to leave because generations of Graves have buried their soul and blood into the ground of their Oklahoma home. Men don’t feel like men when they are told what to do, “But them sons-a-bitches says I got to get off-an’, Jesus Christ, a man can’t, when he’s tol’ to” describes dignity and pride that could not be taken away from some of the men during The Dust Bowl. Muley was not able to leave his land because it was not his own personal choice to leave, the “monsters” which were banks and company owners forced him to leave his land but he just could not leave; appeasing to another man is an extremely hard thing for a man to do. Depriving these men from their pride is humiliation to most; however, some men like Muley Graves did not conform to the loss of pride. Stubbornness remains to be one of the biggest obstacles that seems to keep Muley Graves on his land in order to show the audience that it can become a huge factor in decision making, and also connects to pride. Graves reminisces about the times that his family had on their land, he remembers all the good and wonderful memories that his family experienced which becomes an even bigger reason for him to stay, “a got gored to death by a bull. An’ his blood is right in that groun’, right now. Mus’ be. Nobody never washed it out. An’ I put my han’ on that groun’ where my own pa’s blood is part of it.”(51) Muley Graves’ family name is engraved on the land, years of different life experiences have occurred on the land. Leaving that behind is not something so simple that many men can do, in Muley’s case, he felt the need to stay and at least have the thought of happy or sad memories come back; staying on the land would make his father happy because at least knowing they didn’t force him out of his home, is something to be proud of. A lot of families felt this way, but not all men could take action like this because it wouldn’t keep them alive for too long, however Muley Graves stayed not only because of his own personal choice, but also because like many others, he had a stubborn conscious. Muley Graves has a very unique name; I believe Steinbeck specifically named his character this way in order to reveal to the audience a first time impression on the character. Muley sounds a lot like a mule, a mule is known to be lazy but especially stubborn. A mule is a stubborn animal that refuses to do work; relation to Muley who refuses t leave to California because he can’t leave his land behind. His last name, Graves, sounds like a graveyard. Graveyards are usually associated with death and ghosts, supernatural occurrences which is sort of a way of being stubborn. When a ghost is at a graveyard it becomes too stubborn to leave and continues to roam free in relation to Muley Graves, “I been sneakin’ aroun’ like a ol’ graveyard ghos’”, he continues to live around old abandoned homes in which he is not welcome. His stubbornness is in the way of making a decision to move with his family and let the bitterness go away. Muley Graves is aware that “the folks ain’t never comin’ back” but he refuses to leave his pride and joy behind. Muley Graves inhibits the emotion of fear in order to show how this feeling can get in the way of unifying with people. Muley Graves is first described as a “no run-an’-hide fella” but Muley admits that “when you’re huntin’somepin you’re a hunter. But when you get hunted-that’s different “these huge business owners have turned a once “mean” guy into a “mean….weasel” then there must be something frightening about the situation. Fear was written all over Muley Graves face as he talked to Tom Joad and Jim Casy because he was too scared to show his face to the police authority as they passed by. Muley did not leave his land, but he is living on it with terror and paranoia because these “monsters” could come and attack any time they please. Fear is an obstacle that limits the survival of a person; Muley Graves was scared to leave his land. Steinbeck never mentions Muley Graves in the book ever again, which can be an indication that he probably did not survive the crisis during this time. Muley Graves was alone and did not have any support to keep pushing him forward to survive. The fact that he was not unified with his family or anyone in general, made him a weaker person unable to sustain during these times of difficulties. Pride, stubbornness, and fear were emphasized in The Grapes of Wrath by portraying Muley Graves in order to help the reader understand the general emotion of the story. Muley Graves was not a main character and only briefly came out in chapter six but his appearance in the book drastically helps support the role of the main characters by utilizing their problems and their way of thinking. Steinbeck teaches reader that unification is better that being independent because it provides a better chance for opportunities and survival.

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