.. rving children of the camp they were residing in, even though her family was in great need of the food. Grandpa Joad did not necessarily play an important role to the novel, but played a role in symbolizing an ideal that Steinbeck was trying to portray. Grandpa Joad was a man of his land as proved in his refusal to leave that which was his. Upon the families removal of the land, the house in which they lived, once filled with life, would succumb to the elements of nature and neglect. Just as the house dies when the Joad’s are removed from the land, Grandpa dies as the house is removed from his life. The house and the land was all that he had to live for, it was all that he understood, and when it was taken from his life, he had nothing left to live for.
Jim Casey is an interesting character from the novel who is struggling with himself with an internal conflict. Jim, a former minister, is troubled by the guilty conscious he receives when he would lay in the grass with a particular female pupil of his after Sunday class. He questions how the act could be such a sin if only the holiest females seem to partake in such an activity. Throughout the novel, Jim is met by certain situations which aid is his continuous enlightenment. Jim abandons his holy ways to realize that it is not the abstract aspects of life that matter as much as the actions of living humans. He rejects the idea of surrounding himself in God’s soul, but the souls of human beings, each whom combined create a much holier soul.
Jim is so intent on realizing this, that even when standing next to the dying Mrs. Wilson, resists her wish for his prayers. He simply is trying to separate himself from the idea of God as much as possible, which was further expressed when he was forced by the Joad’s to say something upon Grandpa’s death. Jim, in sticking to his new philosophy of recognizing the importance of life over death represents these feelings in his words for Grandpa. All that lives is holy, Grandpa is dead, he doesn’t need much said. (Steinbeck 184) Jim Casey pursued these ideals right to his death as he was in the process of attempting to organize the migrant workers to unite in numbers to gain power.
There are many aspects of this book which, combined, make it the great novel it proved to be. Steinbeck’s use of the intermittent narrative chapters give the reader a greater idea of what is going on, all of while pulling the entire picture of the novel together. Each little chapter, in its own sense, teaches, or makes the reader further aware of an aspect that might not normally be interpreted, or realized through the regular chapters alone which Steinbeck uses as a tool to further develop and express his ideas. For example, chapter 3 expresses the struggle of a turtle trying to get across the highway. An ignorant reader might take the chapter literally, missing the underlying message that Steinbeck is trying to reveal.
As the turtle attempts to cross the road, he is twice nearly crushed by passing motorists, and is flung off the road by a motorist who tried unsuccessfully to purposefully squash the turtle in it’s tracks. The turtle, in actuality, completes a micro/macrocosm constructed by Steinbeck. The turtle struggles to cross the street while looking failure in the eyes from both the ignorant driver, and the driver who tried to squash him. So what is Steinbeck trying to tell us? The ignorant driver symbolizes those who, not knowingly, are killing the lives of the migrants workers, including those of the Joad’s. These unsuspecting people include the plantation owners who jack up prices and cut wadges ignorant of the havoc they cause to their workers, as well as the land owners who evict the families not aware of what they will have to go through to survive. Those who intentionally are out to hurt the migrant workers are represented by the police officers who try to shut down their tent cities keeping them on the move and out of their area. They are also represented by those who intentionally try to swindle the migrant workers by charging ridiculously high prices for goods and services.
The officers are fully aware of what their actions will do, but do not care, as the downfall of the migrant workers is their only concern. Steinbeck wrote this book for one reason; to make the plight and difficulties of the migrant workers known to all of America. He accomplished this by telling the story from the viewpoint of a particular family, rather then the migrant workers as a whole. Steinbeck showed what these people went through from their eviction from their home, to their eventually self-destruction and failure as a family. Once the appropriate focus on the Joad’s had been reached, it was then possible for Steinbeck to tie it all together by bringing the entire situation into view.
This was possible through the demonstration of the workers establishing a common ground with each other. Once the strength of the inner family had been established, a family of families could be constructed. The story went from I lost my land to We lost our land. It showed just what the life of a migrant worker was all about; for example the establishing of a common ground within one another. The migrant workers were a group of people who were looking out for each other and willing to work together, as survival during these periods proved tough and could not be accomplished without teamwork.
This is simply why the migrant workers found ways to successfully govern themselves throughout their tent cities which is why they looked to establish a common ground. Times were tough, and that constant harassment of police organizations only worsened the situation. It was clearly evident that the Joad’s like any of the migrant workers were looking out for one other and would do anything if one was in need. Nothing exemplifies this ideal more then the closing scene of the novel. Rose, surrounded by a family overshadowed by personal loss, lack of income and food, in a period of dying (metaphorically speaking), gives life to a dying stranger regardless of who he was, or where he came from. This is what true life to the migrant workers was all about, and this is what they had demonstrated time and time again. Book Reports.