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“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck Essay


John Steinbeck’s book, ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ is a standard book that is renowned for its interesting writing skills and expressive quality. However, the supposedly historical theme is generally projected to sustain socialistic hypotheses. The book concentrates on an unfortunate family of sharecroppers forced from their Oklahoma home by financial constrains, food shortage, and unproductively of the agricultural sector. As a result of the desperate conditions desperate, and partly since they were locked ion the Dust Bowl, the Joad started their journey to California. In company with other ‘Okies,’ they tried to find land, dignity, employment, and future for their children.

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‘The Grapes of Wrath’ begins with a representation of the Dust Bowl, the incident that brings about all that occurs in the other parts of the book and brings in Tom Joad, the main character. In the beginning of the story, Tom has just been paroled from prison after he was sentenced for a murder case and he went back to his family where he was accompanied by a former preacher on his return trip. When both arrived at the Joad’s home, they discovered that the house is vacated and was nearly falling down.

They finally met their family at Tom’ uncle house, where they were ready to travel to California. It was found out that famine destroyed their family produce and when the bank closed out the farm of the Joad’s family, they were compelled to take refuge in Tom’s uncle house. Tom was among the people who were forced to travel to California, where they expected to find jobs and create a better future. When they arrived at their intended destination, they discovered their expectations to be insufficiently unachievable.

The announcements concerning ample jobs for all are actually just tricks by the property owners to obtain inexpensive labour by driving in employees more than the available jobs. Slowly, the state of the family deteriorated as some of the family members depart. Rosasharn’s husband left her, even though she was expecting a child and Casy is detained by the authority, where he got separated from the rest of their members. The remaining Joad’s family members remained for a short time at a government structure, but jobs were not there for them. Therefore, they were caused to abandon the government camp and migrate to another destination.

However, when they eventually got a job in a fruit farm, they find out that they are indeed engaged in strike breaking that was arranged by Casy. When the strike becomes brutal, Casy is murdered and Tom got himself in a killing to avenge the Casy’s murder. The Joad’s family decided to run away so that they can safe their family member from the police arrest since he had committed a murder offence. The rock bottom is reached when the child of Rosasharm is stillborn and the story was concluded with Rosasharn breastfeeding a hungry person so withered that he can only digest milk.

‘The Grapes of Wrath’ uses a range of remarkable writing methods to present its message and generate emotion inside the story. The key plot is repetitively combined with short narratives and sketches, or descriptive discussions that portray the state of that era and the activities that were being performed during that time. Some of these techniques are employed to generate a general atmosphere. A vehicle hits the poor turtle and makes it to fly over the highway. Although it is still living, it is persevering. In the following chapter, Joad observes very similar turtle and lifts it up since he was expecting to carry it home to his younger sibling as a pet.

When Joad met Casy and both began talking, the turtle nearly ran away in different occasions, but Tom prevented it several times. When Tom arrived home and realized that the house was deserted, he allowed the turtle to go since he had a sign of hopelessness. The unfortunate turtle experiences another attack from a cat left after the family migrated. The poor turtle only covers itself in its shell and waits for the enemy to go away before continuing his journey.

The incidence of the turtle covers over chapter three to chapter six, binding them together and creating the people to feel sorry for experiences of the poor turtle for the experiences that it was passing through. The turtle efforts and experiences foretell those of the Joad’s relatives to whom the sympathy of the people will eventually move or change. Like the poor turtle, the Joad’s family will not surrender and both Joad’s family and turtle stories will not come eventually to be joyful. However, both turtle and the family will continue to exist regardless of the attacks and challenges they experienced.

Another important and inclusive writing technique that was used during the writing of the book is encountered in chapter seven when the used car seller intended to make a deal with distressed immigrants to purchase his old and worn-out jalopy. Through this process, he combines explanatory and short expressions not including predicates into a continuing monologue, which is the car dealer’s personal consideration.

Like a sketch where some carefully illustrated lines generate an image, the descriptive and short expressions that the author employ confine the needs of the car dealer to trade his old and worn-out jalopies and the immigrants to purchase a car that will help them reach their destination, California. For instance, the author hurriedly introduces his old car using just some short and significant expressions. He stated: “A lot and a house large enough for a desk and chair and a blue book. Sheaf of contracts, dog-eared, held with paper clips, and a neat pile of unused contracts. Pen—keep it full, keep it working. Owners with rolled-up sleeves. Salesmen, neat, deadly, small intent eyes watching for weaknesses” (Steinbeck 25).

Such short expressions reveal the fast and brief discussions of the car dealer when he said: “Lookin’ for a car? What did you have in mind? See anything attracts you? I’m dry. How about a little snort a good stuff? Come on, while your wife’s lookin’ at that La Salle. You don’t want no La Salle. Bearings shot. Uses too much oil. Got a Lincoln ’24. There’s a car. Run forever. Make her into a truck.” (Steinbeck 30). Both the car dealer’s continuous monologue and the significant expressions are short and concise. This difference is small, but it brings about these two narrative constituents to reinforce significantly each other with the intention that the general sketch is balanced and complete.

Another impact that the author employs all through the story is the repetition of a major phrase. For instance at the start of the story, the author illustrates the symbols used to publicize used cars provided by the care dealers. Steinbeck said: “In the towns on the edges of the towns, in fields, in vacant lots, the used-car yards, the wreckers’ yards, the garages with blazoned signs—Used Cars, Good Used Cars. Cheap transportation, three trailers. ’27 Ford, clean.

Checked cars, guaranteed cars. Free radio. Car with 100 gallons of gas free. Come in and look. Used Cars. No overhead.” (Steinbeck 56). In this narrative and expression, “Used Cars. Good Used Cars” (Steinbeck 56) is a major expression that is seen frequently on the story. It binds the whole passage together with a general idea or subject. The continuous repetition of “Good Used Cars” moves toward the stage of sarcastic irony that reveals the used care dealer’s scheming trick to make the most of the distressed immigrants.

This is particularly shown in the last part of the passage when the author stated: “Goin’ to California? Here’s jus’ what you need. Looks shot, but they’s thousan’s of miles in her. Lined up side by side. Good Used Cars. Bargains. Clean, runs good” (Steinbeck 57).

Steinbeck’s writing technique of the repetition of single phrase all through the story may be seen in yet another passage in his writings. In chapter twelve, the author starts with a sketch of Route 66, the key immigrant route. The Steinbeck changes to a continuing flow from the viewpoint of a crowd of distressed immigrants. The migrants disagree about the issues and things that they will encounter in California before it hands out. Temporarily, their young boy sitting at the back of the car complains regarding the way he was thirsty. In four occasions in two pages, the author suddenly and intentionally interrupts his explanation of the journey and the adult’s discussions with the expression, “Danny wants a cup of water” (Steinbeck 58).

The author repeats this expression so that it can generate the impact of a child’s backseat grievances and to bring in the existence of the child. The author uses such examples and other writing devices to provide competently his message that is more appealing as the story continues. Steinbeck, in “The Grapes of Wrath,” uses the incident of immigrant employees to present an essential message to the readers. In providing this experience, Steinbeck portrays that life is a combination of both mean and interesting events and activities. This combination presents the unifying theme of the book and particularly observed or encountered at the last part of chapter twelve. “The people in flight from the terror behind—strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever” (Steinbeck 60).


To conclude this book review of “The Grapes of Wrath,” Steinbeck has made a touching and relatively well presented piece of art that contained different writing techniques. The narrative is extremely descriptive and the manner in which the author presented his writing skills and methods made the story a distinct experience. On the other hand, the reader of “The Grapes of Wrath” should recall that the author had his personal purposes in presenting or writing this piece of art. The author tried to draw the reader’s attentions through his writing skills and the way he used sympathy phrases and examples, such as Joad’s family and turtle experiences.


Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Great Books, 2002. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-grapes-of-wrath-the-book-by-john-steinbeck/.


IvyPanda. "“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-grapes-of-wrath-the-book-by-john-steinbeck/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-grapes-of-wrath-the-book-by-john-steinbeck/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck'. 12 January.

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