The Grapes of Wrath


Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the character of Tom Joad. How does he grow and change throughout the novel? What role does Jim Casy play in Tom’s development?

2. The Grapes of Wrath employs a narrative style in which chapters depicting the Joads’ specific journey to California are interspersed with chapters that focus on the wider realities of the era. Discuss the function of these intercalary chapters (the non-Joad chapters). In what specific ways do they connect to the Joads’ story? What is the overall effect of this style?

3. The novel’s final image is one of the most striking and memorable moments in American literature. Discuss the symbolic significance of Rose of Sharon’s suckling the dying man at her breast. In your opinion, is the image tragic or hopeful? A combination of both? Consider the novel’s major themes and discuss how the image fits in with them.

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