Shmoops Take On The Great Depression And The Grapes Of Wrath

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It is still one of the most widely read novels in both high school and college classrooms. The novel has even continued to prompt further research: just recently, the Steinbeck Institute commissioned researchers to trace the path of the Joads. They reported that little has changed -- a traveler who sets out from Oklahoma and heads for California is met with wide expanses and difficult terrain, much the same landscape that the Joads encountered. In more ways than one, The Grapes of Wrath is timeless.

Why does Rose of Sharon smile mysteriously? In the excerpt from The Grapes of Wrath, how does the main character speaking mainly feel toward those he interacts with in town? In the excerpt from The Grapes of Wrath, what are the characters selling? Choose two options.

by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath study guide contains a biography of John Steinbeck, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The book came to be regarded as an American classic. The narrative, which traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships, is interspersed with prose-poem interludes that explain the wider circumstances of the world with which the protagonists contend.

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Tom Joad, newly released from prison after serving a sentence for manslaughter, makes his way home, and along the way he is joined by Jim Casy, a former preacher. Tom learns that his family has been evicted from the farm and has moved in with Uncle John. The Joads and Casy head out along Route 66 , joining an exodus of poor tenant farmers heading west. They encounter many obstacles on the journey, as well as warnings that the jobs they expect in California are illusory.

Upon arrival in California, they find that their trials are far from over. They stop in a migrant encampment, where they speak with a man named Floyd Knowles, who informs them that jobs are scarce, available pay is poor, and families are literally starving to death in the makeshift migrant camps. When a man arrives seeking workers to pick fruit, Floyd asks for the proposed wages in writing. A policeman accuses him of communism and tries to arrest him.

The Great Depression: Crash Course US History #33

A fight breaks out, and, when the policeman shoots at the fleeing Floyd, Casy knocks him out. However, they later find the government-run camp Weedpatch, which is kept clean and organized by committees of residents, and Tom finds work. After a month in the camp, Ma Joad declares that they must move on because of the scarcity of work.

The Grapes of Wrath Summary from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

They soon are offered jobs picking peaches, but the pay is so low that they cannot afford an adequate dinner. Tom finds Casy, who is now organizing striking peach pickers—the Joad family was hired to be strikebreakers. A group of men approach the meeting under cover of darkness, and one of them strikes Casy with a pick handle, killing him. An enraged Tom kills that man before returning to his family. Fearful that Tom will be arrested, the Joads leave the peach farm. They subsequently find good work picking cotton, as well as a home in a boxcar that they share with another family.

Tom, who has gone into hiding, decides to become a labour organizer.

The Grapes of Wrath

When the season for cotton ends, the Joads again struggle to find work. When the rising waters begin to fill the boxcar, the Joad family leaves. They soon reach a barn, in which they find a small boy and a starving man.

The book ends with Rose of Sharon feeding the man her breast milk. But the farm country of California quickly became overcrowded with the migrant workers.

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Many of the residents of these camps starved to death, unable to find work. When Steinbeck decided to write a novel about the plight of migrant farm workers, he took his task very seriously.

To prepare, he lived with an Oklahoma farm family and made the journey with them to California. When The Grapes of Wrath appeared, it soared to the top of the bestseller lists, selling nearly half a million copies. Although Steinbeck went on to have a productive literary career and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in , none of his later books had the impact of The Grapes of Wrath.


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He died in However, in writing his novel, Steinbeck attempted not only to describe the plight of migrant workers during the Depression but also to offer a pointed criticism of the policies that had caused that plight. Thus, the novel stands as a chronicle of the Depression and as a commentary on the economic and social system that gave rise to it.

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