The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is an eye-opening novel
which deals with the struggle for survival of a migrant family of farmers
in the western United States. The book opens with a narrative chapter describing

Oklahoma, and the overall setting. It sets the mood of an area which has
been ravished by harsh weather. "The sun flared down on the growing corn
day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green
bayonet. The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the
sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country, and
white in the gray country." (Steinbeck pg.3) Steinbeck, in a detailed fashion
described the area in great detail. Not only was the area stricken by a
drought and extreme temperatures, but to add to the difficulties, the families
of the area were bombarded by high winds and dust storms which barraged
their houses, crops, and moral. The idea was made clear, quite early, that
the farming plains of Oklahoma were a cruel and difficult place for a family
to make a successful living.

The reader is first introduced to a character
by the name of Tom Joad, a man who has been released early from the penitentiary
on parole after serving four years of his seven year sentence. Tom, once
released, begins the trip back home to his family on their forty acre farming
estate. Tom, through the aid of a helpful truck driver, is given a ride
to the general area of his house. It is interesting to see how Tom manages
to hitch a ride with the truck driver, who under normal circumstances,
would not have given any rides to hitch hikers, simply due to a sticker
on his cab which reads "No Riders." Tom however, through cunning reasoning
skills, is able to get what he needs. "Can you give me a lift mister,"
said Tom. "Didn\'t you see the No Riders sticker on the wind shield?,"the
driver proclaimed. "Sure, I seen it. But sometimes a guy will be a good
guy even if some rich b&%#@rd makes him carry a sticker."(Steinbeck

11) Technically, if the driver refused, he would not be a "good" guy ,
and if he took the hitch-hiker, he would be a "good" guy, and would prove
that he was not one whom a rich boss could kick around. Through his actions
in the opening scenes, we learn a little bit about Tom Joad, and what he
is like as a person.

Once Tom is dropped off, he meets up with
an old minister named Jim Casey. The reader momentarily learns of Jim\'s
inner struggle before he joins Tom in accompanying him back to his house.

Meanwhile, the Joad\'s (tenant farmers) were being evicted from their house
by the owner of the land, and were making plans for a trip to move in with

Uncle Tom.

Upon the arrival of Tom and Jim, they are
quick to discover, through the knowledge of Muley, an old friend of Tom,
that his family has already left, but were unable to reach him to let him
know what was happening to them.

Tom and Jim eventually catch up to the
family at Uncle Tom\'s cabin and are greeted with open arms. Soon after
their arrival, the family is once again forced to leave. After purchasing
a truck, the family heads for California in the search of a home and work,
but not without a struggle with Grandpa who does not wish to leave. The
family is forced to drug him to bring him along, only for him to later
die along the way of a massive stroke.

Casey decides to come along with the family
while still struggling with his internal conflict. As the trip lengthens,
the family meets up with the Mr. and Mrs. Wilson one night along the side
of the road. The two families befriend each other and continue the trip
west together. Both families continue to travel west together until they
are separated when Mrs. Wilson becomes fatally ill, which forces the Wilsons
to stay behind. The struggle of the Joad\'s is becoming more and more apparent
now as they experience the realities of life. Cruel police officers, cunning
salesmen, and ignorant people all add to the total picture and struggle
the family is enduring, and bring the reality of the entire situation to
a front. Grandma dies, as well as Rose of Sharon\'s baby which only adds
to the trouble. Connie eventually walks out