January 16, 2013
The Morality in The Grapes of Wrath
Through the many premises in the renowned novel, The Grapes of Wrath, many morals can be derived. Steinbeck emphasizes the transition of characters from selfishness to selflessness from their experiences through the novel. Through the contrasting themes of drought and flood, Steinbeck delivers the meaning of the novel; to achieve success, people must come together and fight for their common cause. Initially, the novel takes place in Oklahoma where there is a severe drought and most farmers’ houses are being condemned. At this point, neighbors and families are separating in order to save themselves from starvation or further bankruptcy. When a tenant and his family are being kicked out of their home by a former neighbor, the tenant says, “’But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?’ And the driver said, ‘Can’t think of that. Got to think of my own kids’”(Steinbeck 37). This is the mindset that brought Oklahoma into the irreversible debt. People continued to ‘feed the monster,’ the big banks, by allowing them to brainwash their previous morals and values and put their minds into a sense of survival mode. The drought symbolizes the mentality of the people, the selfishness and inconsideration. Until the people, like the tractor driver, come to the realization that everyone must come together as a whole to stand up to the banks and this unfair system, it is going to continue to be an unceasing cycle. Eventually, the characters of the novel begin to transition to a more selfless state. Jim Casy sets the tone for this shift of mind when he sacrifices his freedom so Tom does not break his parole. Casy says to Al, “If you mess in this your whole fambly, all your folks, gonna get in trouble…They’ll get in trouble” (Steinbeck 266). This sacrifice...
Cited: Steinbeck, John, and Robert J. DeMott. The Grapes of Wrath. New
York: Penguin, 1992.
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