Biblical Allusion in "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck

Essay by bombdreadHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2003

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Biblical Allusion in The Grapes of Wrath

A popular literary technique that can be found in a number of literary works is the biblical allusion. John Steinbeck perfects this technique in his novel The Grapes of Wrath by introducing a character who is symbolic of Jesus Christ. This character, Jim Casy, not only shares initials with this biblical figure, but he also grows thoughout the novel as a speaker, a mediator, an organizer, and, most remarkably, a martyr.

At the advent of the novel, Jim Casy is quick to protest that he is no longer a preacher. Nevertheless, evidence of his innate speaking ability is brought forth when he explains his thoughts and ideas to Tom. For example, Casy remarks that "maybe there's jus one but soul an everyone's a part of it," immediately foreshadowing his future decision to unite with other migrant workers. Casy's allusion to Jesus Christ serves as the force behind Tom's character as it changes throughout the novel from self-absorbed to one who thinks about the future and what he can do to help.

Also, Casy utilizes his organizational skills when he unites some of his fellow "reds", and they discuss the changes that need to be made. In this very scene of the novel, deputies begin to harass the men and Casy cries out, "You don't know what you're doing. You're helpin' to starve children." This is the final stage of Casy's symbolism to Jesus he is killed while preaching what he believes and therefore becomes a martyr for all the migrant workers.

Casy's symbolic death can be easily predicted. At one point he goes as far as telling Tom that "there's gonna be sumthin dat changes the whole country" "Not no one knows bout it yet, but they will." Clearly, Steinbeck created...