"The Grapes of Wrath", by Steinbeck - Critical Analysis

Essay by Phil WeberHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 1996

download word file, 9 pages 5.0

Many writers in American literature try to instill the philosophy of their choosing into their reader. This is often a philosophy derived at from their own personal experiences. John Steinbeck is no exception to this. When traveling through his native Californian in the mid-1930s, Steinbeck witnessed people living in appalling conditions of extreme poverty due to the Great Depression and the agricultural disaster known as the Dust Bowl. He noticed that these people received no aid whatsoever from neither the state of California nor the federal government. The rage he experienced from seeing such treatment fueled his novel The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck sought to change the suffering plight of these farmers who had migrated from the midwest to California. Also, and more importantly, he wanted to suggest a philosophy into the reader, and insure that this suffering would never occur again (Critical 1). Steinbeck shows in The Grapes of Wrath that there is no one man, but one common soul in which we all belong to.

The subject of Steinbeck's fiction is not the most thoughtful, imaginative, and constructive aspects of humanity, but rather the process of life itself (Wilson 785). Steinbeck has been compared to a twentieth century Charles Dickens of California; a social critic with more sentiment than science or system. His writing is warm, human, inconsistent, occasionally angry, but more often delighted with the joys associated with human life on its lowest levels (Holman 20). This biological image of man creates techniques and aspects of form capable of conveying this image of man with esthetic power and conviction; the power to overcome adversity through collectiveness, or in this case, as one combined soul(Curley 224).

Steinbeck's basic purpose of the novel is essentially religious, but not in any orthodox sense of the word. He is religious...