Essay on Grapes of wrath

Submitted By 1670522
Words: 1317
Pages: 6

When people lose their identities and struggle with hardship, they persevere and reach unification. In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath because of the dust bowl, the Joad family, as well as other migrants, are forced off their land, losing their identity. On their journey to California, the Joads face hardship such as starvation and death ultimately leading the Joads as well as other dust bowl survivors to unity. When the Joads are forced off their land that they have been living on for generations they lose their sense of identity. In the context of the story, land is synonymous with identity. This is especially apparent in the book with grandpa Joad. It can be argued that Grandpa Joad did not die on the road to California but instead the minute he left the land. This argument is further supported through Jim Casy’s speech to Pa in the book when he says “ You fellas can make some kinda new life, but grandpa his life was over and he knew it. He was foolin, all the time. I think he knowed it. An’ grandpa didn’t die tonight. He died the minute you took i’m off his place… He was that place an’ he knowed it” (146). This reinforces the belief that grandpa’s mental and physical connection to the land made it impossible for him to leave it. The Oklahoma farmers believed that the land belonged to them and they belonged to the land. Showing how when the farmers were forced to move away from the land, because of the Dust Bowl, they lost their identity because their identity was made up of the land that they had lived and farmed on for years. An earlier example from the book that shows the connection between land and identity is the character of Muley Graves. When Muley and Jim Casy are talking about his refusal to leave the land, Muley says “I’ll be aroun’ I says. I’ll be aroun’ till hell freezes over. There ain’t nobody can turn a guy named Graves outta this county.’ An’ they ain’t done it, neither.” (45) Muley exemplifies a physical, emotional and mental connection to the land. Although it is illegal for Muley to remain on the land, he simply cannot leave because through the years the land has become a part of him and if he does leave he will not only lose his home but will lose himself in the process. As the Joads continue their strenuous journey to California they come across numerous hardships in their new life. When the migrants form a large family and bond together they come to the conclusion that surviving is easier together. This makes them realize that hardships are part of the journey and that surviving their new life in California may be just as difficult as the one they left in Oklahoma. A clear example of this is when Tom and Pa are bathing in the river; when Tom notices the rugged landscape of California, while Pa does not know that he has arrived. Pa exclaims “Wait till we get to California. You’ll see nice country then.‘ Jesus Christ Pa! This here is California.” (204) In this moment the Joads truly see that California might not be as great as they hoped it would be. The promise land of California was the only reason why the Joads had worked and struggled on and now that California seemed out of reach they now were discouraged because they realized they would never obtain the American dream or Ma’s white house. In the beginning chapters of the book the turtle represents and foreshadows the hardships that the migrants will face “ And now a light truck approached, and as it came near the, driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it.” (15) The driver of the truck symbolizes the greed and hatred the dust bowl families encountered. This continuous hardship and struggle leads the migrants to become a larger identity, because they realize it is easier to survive together then alone. This idea of facing hardship as a united front instead of struggling alone is shown in a excerpt from chapter 17 “In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family the children were the children of all.