May 8, 2002
What's in the Name?
One of the most important parts of a book is its title. Some authors like to put a meaning in their title that can only be understood once the book has been read. John Steinbeck, the author of The Grapes of Wrath is no exception.
This title can be understood better if both the book and the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic" are read. The title originally came from this song, which was written during the civil war in 1861, by Julia Ward Howe. Julia and her husband became part of the U.S. sanitary commission for the sanitary conditions in the Prisoner of War camps. She visited many Prison camps along with many Union Army camps. While visiting a camp one of the soldiers, who had read some of her poetry, asked her to write a song for the war effort.
"Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the song she wrote for the men fighting.
Since she was very religious, Julia incorporated her religion in her song. This can be found throughout the entire song, including its title. The word hymn is usually used when talking about a song sung at church. One of her lyrics even says "the Lord". Every time the word "he" is in her song it is capitalized, which usually means God. "As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free"(Howe ) is another lyric in the song that refers to Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus died on the cross so that everyone's sins would be forgiven making them holy and allowed to enter heaven.
The lyrics "He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored"(Howe) is where Steinback got the title for his...