free booknotes online

Help / FAQ

printable study guide online download notes summary

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck



  1. B
  2. B
  3. C
  4. A
  5. B
  6. B
  7. A
  8. A
  9. C
  10. C

11. Both the main narrative and the interchapters of The Grapes of Wrath refer to labor unions and to the issues we commonly think of when labor and management collide; the rights of strikers; strike-breaking; the public interest; negotiating agreements. The account of the Hooper Ranch strike in Chapter 26 may help you locate additional strike-related matters.

In the book's pages you also find allusions to such practices as blacklisting and planting "stools" (stool-pigeons) among the workers. See Floyd's conversation with Tom at the Hooverville camp (Chapter 20) and the men's discussion at the Saturday night dance (Chapter 24) for more details.

The narrative sections of the novel show the book's characters engaged for better or worse in union talk and activity. The interchapters (especially Chapter 14) identify the conditions that seeded America's union movement.

A word of caution: the employers' point of view is missing from the novel.

12. Since he is one of the main characters in a long and complex book, Tom is likely to have more than one side to his personality. Look for personality changes. Do his actions and interests change during the course of the novel? He acts one way with the truck driver who gives him a lift and quite another when he meets Casy. He's thoughtful around the campfire with Muley and Casy, but he's a man of action when the deputy is about to arrest Floyd.

Much of the time he insults and denounces people- the truck driver, the fat service-station attendant, the one-eyed junkyard man, even his brother Al. Why? Certainly not to condemn them. He hopes to arouse their anger as a way to release them from self-pity. Angry men don't give up; they fight.

To help his family Tom breaks parole. He's up first in the morning to look for work. He's quick to defend Floyd and even quicker to avenge Casy. Afterward, he's in danger, but stays with his family, anyway. When he is forced to leave, he follows Casy's lead and champions the cause of the brotherhood of Man.

13. Decide whether your job is to keep up the image of the U.S. or to help foreigners understand our country.

In some respects, the U.S. is belittled in the novel. A land of opportunity it isn't- not when people can't find work, or when they starve and die. Moreover, in scene after scene, authorities abuse migrants. A place that permits oppression cannot be "a land of the free."

Note the differences between the federal and the state governments. Oppression comes from state police, while a federal agency runs government camps where migrants live decently and with self-respect.

Another fact to consider is that The Grapes of Wrath describes conditions that have changed in the decades since the 1930s. Therefore, you'd probably have no reason to keep it off the shelf anymore.

Still another approach to consider is that the book may contain nothing worth hiding. In fact, the Joads could well represent what's good about America. They possess courage, determination, generosity, and ruggedness- all qualities that we like to think define the American spirit.

14. The banks hate the sharecroppers, the Californians hate the migrants, the migrants hate their poverty. Readers sympathetic to Steinbeck's point of view may end up hating banks, police officers, landowners, shopkeepers, and anyone else who contributes to the migrants' plight. Surely, there's hatred in the novel. But simply because the novel contains examples of hatred, is it about hatred?

If so, it must be about other matters, too: love, courage, determination, socialism, prejudice, poverty, and much more.

The book makes frequent references, especially in Chapter 19, to a three-stage cycle of human emotions: 1. fear (Californians feared the migrants); 2. hatred (fear evolved into hatred); and 3. anger (the victims of hatred responded with anger). Reasonably, then, the book is about fear and anger as much as it is about hatred.

To claim that the book is solely about hatred may say more about the speaker than about the book.

15. The Okies have disappeared. The U.S. has a welfare system to keep even the poorest people from starving. Guards no longer stand at state borders to keep undesirables out. Labor unions protect workers and have become an accepted institution in American society. The Grapes of Wrath, therefore, has become an historical curiosity. That's one point of view.

Here's another: The Grapes of Wrath is more than a story about the Joads and their problems. The Joads represent all victims of oppression and poverty. They exemplify endurance and the will to survive. Ma is a mythic figure, the earth mother- nourishing, strong, and protective of her flock. Jim Casy symbolizes the good and moral man; Tom, the man of action who comes to the rescue when the people are in need. These are memorable characters who stand for values held as dear today as they were in 1939.

Until prejudice, deprivation, anger, and frustration are wiped out, we'll need books like The Grapes of Wrath to inspire us and to help us maintain our faith in humanity.


ECC [Table of Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc. Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of is prohibited.


  Web Search Our Message Boards   

All Contents Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 10/18/2019 3:21:29 PM