The Grapes of Wrath
1. What does the setting of the opening scene suggest about the rest of the novel? What does it suggest about family structure?
(Include: What is your definition of family? Is a family made up of only relatives? Is yours? What keeps a family together? What keeps your family together? Of what importance is family unity in today’s society? Does your family agree and follow any pattern of unity? Describe!)
2. Animals play an important symbolic role throughout this novel. What important qualities does the land turtle have as described in chapter 3?
(Include: Do you have pets? What role do the pets in your household play? Are pets important to the people who care for them? What emotional meaning to people do pets have?)
3. What opinions does Casy, the former preacher, have about sin and using “bad words”?
(Include: How do you feel about “bad language” and its use? How do your family—parents, siblings, grandparents---feel about language?)
4. How do the tractors operate? What role does the bank play? What power do the small farmers have against the banks and tractors?
5. Of what importance is Muley in the story? What’s the difference between being the hunter and being hunted?
6. Chapters 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 tell the narrative about Tom Joad and his family the way novels usually do. What is the function of the other short chapters (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.)? What does chapter 7 imply about used car salesmen?
7. What do the faces of the Joad family reveal about them? What are the most important characteristics of Ma and Pa and the grandparents?
(Include: What are the most important characteristics of your mother? Your father? Your grandparents? What do your family members mean to you? What keeps your family together on a day-to-day basis? If you do not know your parents or grandparents, you may write about the people who ARE your “family”.)
8. How does each member of the family feel about going to California? How does each feel about leaving home? What is young Tom’s philosophy for dealing with the future? What does Ma’s burning of the old stationery box illustrate?
(What would be important mementos of your past? Describe them and tell why they would be important.) Ch. 12-18:
1. What is the first unpleasant event that occurs on the Joads’ journey? What does that event portend about what lies ahead?
2. What happens to solidify the family as they drive along? Of what significance is Grampa Joad’s death? How does Granma take it? What is Ma’s philosophy of “holdin’ on”? What is the value of Casy’s prayer?
(If you have even lost a close family member, it can be devastating. How is a family affected by the loss of a member? What kinds of things do people do to keep “holdin’ on”?)
3. What is the function of chapter 15? What does it imply about businessmen, waitresses and truck drivers?
4. When the car breaks down, what is significant about Ma’s reaction? How does the mechanical difficulty affect the relationship between Tom and Al?
(If you have had to deal with car trouble, write about what happened, how you solved the problem, and how the experience made you feel.)
5. How does the one-eyed man in the junkyard feel about the owner of the yard? What advice does Tom give him?
6. In the camping area, what information does the ragged man give to Pa about California? What effect does the information have on the Joads?
7. What effect does the nightly camping have on the people heading for California? How does it give them strength and power?
(Write about a camping trip or a camping experience you have had with your family or a group of people. Note: This is not about going away to camp, but road-trip camping.)
8. What is the Joads’ first view of California? What impressions of California doe the two men from the Panhandle provide? (California has many beautiful places. Describe a place in detail, using descriptive diction,...
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