2. The Biblical Story that Exodus in The Grapes the Wrath:2.1. The Exodus that the Joads

3. Conclusion

4 functions Cited

1. Introduction

In 1938 man Steinbeck started writing The Grapes that Wrath, a novel which to be to obtain him his best acclaim. This novel is set in the time of the great Depression and of the Dust Bowl1 in America. In The Grapes that Wrath Steinbeck make the efforts to expose the hardships and plights that the civilization dispossessed from your lands throughout that time. Human being like the Joads native Oklahoma the were to become exploited migrant employees in California, a place which they believed the Promised Land.2

Hence, Steinbeck gained the call of gift a “proletarian writer” because he sides with the common worker.3 Thus, The Grapes of Wrath additionally belongs to Steinbeck’s job Trilogy.4 What is more, his novel to be sharply criticize and very much questioned at the moment of the publication: “It was publicly banned and also burned by citizens, the was disputed on nationwide radio hook-ups; but over all, it was read”.5 in spite of all this critique, in 1940 Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize because that this novel and in 1962 he additionally won the Noble Prize because that Literature.6

Hence, the Grapes that Wrath should be more than just a piece of propagandistic writing. In point of fact, “Steinbeck patterned the book on far more universal themes, both the biblical story of Exodus, and additionally humanity’s volume for survive (…) in the face of (…) calamity”.7 it is very interesting that Steinbeck provides biblical parallels in his story. Thus, that alludes to the Old Testament, the Israelites and also the Exodus as well as to Christ and the brand-new Testament. In various other words, one might additionally say the Steinbeck take away the reader v the advance of the holy bible in stimulate to disclose the migrants’ arising humanity and religion.8

This is currently suggested by the title of this novel because that it is taken indigenous The battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe.9 The reality that Steinbeck’s great American novel seems to count firmly ~ above a biblical consciousness is said in this context since the text of the fight Hymn likewise refer come the biblical passage Revelation (14:19-20). This i appeals come deliverance in the final judgement.10 Hence, as far as the novel is concerned, it is suggested that over there will also be deliverance of the employees after controlling all your hardships and also developing compassion and humanity.

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Therefore, The Grapes that Wrath shows both facets from the Old and also the brand-new Testament. Biblical symbols from the Old Testament room of food the Exodus of the Joad family, the Dust Bowl together the plague, your truck as Noah’s Ark and finally the deluge. An essential elements native the new Testament room for instance the baptism the Tom Joad, the communion of climbed of Sharon and Jim Casy and Tom Joad together Christ-like figures.

In the following, this document will resolve the function of biblical symbols in The Grapes the Wrath. First of all, it will certainly be said that the Joads undergo the biblical story of Exodus in this novel. Secondly, it will certainly be displayed that both Jim Casy and also Tom Joad room Christ figures. What is more, that is also important to take a closer look in ~ the role of humanity and compassion taking the instance of increased of Sharon.

2. The Biblical Story the Exodus in The Grapes the Wrath:

2.1. The Exodus that the Joads

Ever since the very first writings and also reports the the Puritans and also the early american founders, America has actually been regarded as the Promised Land, the brand-new Canaan or the new Jerusalem. Hence, for instance William Bradford, a colonist who defined the arrival of pilgrims in ~ Plymouth concerned the pilgrims as preferred people comparable to the Israelites that the Old Testament.11 This to compare Bradford and also his companions found justified since like the ancient Israelites they were also persecuted in their homelands for spiritual reasons. Thus, the pilgrims left Europe for a new Promised Land, i.e. America.12

For this reason, it is no surprising that Steinbeck additionally deals through the Biblical story that Exodus in The Grapes that Wrath and also uses spiritual symbolism. Hence, The Grapes the Wrath shows the structure of the Biblical Exodus since it is also concerned with the significant themes the hardships, journey, captivity and also the Promised Land.13 Thus, one might insurance claim that the Joads experience an American Exodus. Forced off your land by pawn agents and brokers throughout the Depression, the Joads shed their home and decide to go to the Promised floor which is in their situation California. Lock are convinced to go to the west coastline for “here’s work there, and also it never ever gets cold. Why, you deserve to reach out anywhere and also pick an orange”.14 Hence, similar to the Israelites that the Old testament they should leave your home and also cross the desert in order to with the floor of “milk and honey”, a place of “fruitions the hope”.15

Therefore, the Joads prepare their journey come California and buy a van which each other Noah’s Ark.16 most tellingly the Joad family has twelve members. This seems to draw a parallel in between the twelve Joads and also the twelve people of Israel. What is more, the Joads last meal before leaving Oklahoma for California likewise resembles the Jewish Passover (cf. Ch. 10). At this occasion, the Joads death pigs, eat your flesh and also bones and also conserve the remainder for their lengthy journey. The Joads critical feast in Oklahoma favor the Passover is commemorated in order to “remember the binding with each other of the household through god’s promise that came before the Israelite’s flight from Egypte”.17 Hence, the is also telling that facing different hardships the Joads display a an excellent will come survive.

Nonetheless, the Joad family seems to be falling apart ~ leaving because that California. Hence, Grampa Joad is soon to dice after leaving his home, a residence he did not intend to leaving behind.18 He never ever wanted to walk to the west coastline even despite he witnessed California together a location of hope and also promise dreaming that grapes19 in abundance: “I’m gonna choose me a wash bathtub full the grapes, an’ i’m gonna collection in ‘em, an’ scrooge aroun’, an’ let the juice operation down mine pants” (Ch. 10, p. 107). Thus, his fate might be compared to that of Lot’s wife. Lot’s wife did not desire to leaving her home in Sodom either and also consequently she was turned into a obelisk of salt.20 This is more emphasized by the fact that in ~ Grampa’s funeral Tom Joad cites Lot’s mam by saying: “’An’ Lot claimed unto them, Oh, not so, mine Lord’” (Ch. 13, p. 167).21

However, the household further unravels because Noah Joad leaves them soon. As the Joads prevent by the Colorado river on their method to California and also the men want come refresh us in the water, Noah undergoes a sort of baptism. He then voices his intentionally of being various from the other Joads and to lead a life the his own. He rejects their way of living and also wants to “abandon the belief system numerous Oakies adhere to”.22 Therefore, that refuses to go on v them. In fact, young name is really much attractive to the water. Hence, the “ike to lay forever. Never acquire hungry an’ never get sad. Place in the water every life long, lazy as a brood sow in the mud” (Ch. 18, p. 239). He desires to walk under the river and live solely by fishing. Thus, one can say the Noah “is baptized right into a brand-new life separating self away native the Joads and also migrants alike”.23

In fact, water is a very important symbolic element in this novel. Not just is Noah i was baptized by the water however the Joads likewise become symbolically baptized as they stop at the Colorado River before crossing the desert. Come the Joads the river becomes an “experience of initiation and naming”.24 for at the river, the Joads space given new names, they become “Oakies” (cf. Ch. 18, p. 241). Thus, the truth of becoming migrant labor in California draws nearer to them. Similar to the Israelites who had actually to cross the Red Sea, the Joads are expecting hope and a brand-new life on the various other side the the river. However, “like those fleeing Egypt, the Joads are made to wait for your reward”25 and also encounter countless difficulties and hardships just like the Hebrews in the Exodus.

However, at very first sight, California indeed seems to it is in a brand-new Canaan. As the Joads come at the fertile San Joaquin sink they seem to have indeed found the Promised Land:

They drove with Tehachapi in the morning glow, and the sun came up behind them, and also then – all of sudden they saw the great valley below them. (…) The vineyards, the orchards, the great flat valley, green and beautiful, the trees collection in rows, and also the farm houses.

And Pa said, “God Almighty!” (…) Ruthie and also Winfield scrambled down from the car, and also then lock stood, silent and also awestruck, embarrassed prior to the great valley. The street was thinned with haze, and also the land grew softer and also softer in the distance. (…) Ruthie and Winfield looked in ~ it, and Ruthie whispered, “It’s California.” (…) “’There’s fruit,’ that said aloud” (Ch. 18, p. 267).

Although this watch of California seems to it is in perfect the Joads still encounter challenges there. They also realize that civilization refuse to assist them. Thus, for circumstances the gas terminal attendant sends out them away for he thinks they room beggars. Hence, the Joads have to admit that they are not welcome in California. In fact, the Californians are like the Egyptians in the Old Testament.

A very important and symbolic personality in this novel is of food the previous preacher Jim Casy who has end up being unsure of his belief. That is picked up by the Joads follow me their way to California. Casy shows up to be quite tolerant and also believes in humanity and man’s organic goodness. Thus, he speak Tom that his opinion that “’here ain’t no sin and also there ain’t no virtue. There’s simply stuff people do. It’s all component of the very same thing. And also some that the points folks execute is nice, and also some ain’t nice, yet that’s as far as any type of man acquired a ideal to say’” (Ch. 4, p. 27). Casy is in point of truth a Christ-like figure. Very first of all, his initials space the same as Jesus Christ. What is more, favor Christ Casy also went into the wilderness for intense prayer before returning to society. Hence, Casy withdraws himself for four years from the public in bespeak to build his spiritual beliefs and his commitment to humanity.26 prefer Christ, Casy additionally becomes “a herald that a brand-new consciousness, bringing also through his commitment to humanity and his sacrifice a promise that a new beginning”.27

Hence, that is no surprising that Casy likewise sacrifices himself for the Joads. In bespeak to conserve Tom Joad Casy bring away the blame because that Tom hitting a safety in Hooverville. Together Casy is carried away by the police the feels proud of his sacrifice learning that the will have actually a an excellent impact top top Tom’s life. Hence, “n his lips there was a faint smile and on his challenge a curious look of conquest” (Ch. 20, p. 314). Later Casy is clubbed come death and like Christ that forgives his murderer through saying: “You don’ recognize what she a-doin’ ” (Ch. 26, p. 456). This plainly alludes to Christ’s statement to God when he was crucified. Christ also asked God to forgive his murderers since they walk not know what they were doing. This is certainly a very an effective act the forgiveness and it permits Casy come triumph over his murderers.

Casy’s death indeed baptizes Tom Joad and thus he i do not care a new Christ figure.28 Hence, in prison Tom has already been dubbed “Jesus Meek”. He currently takes increase Casy’s ideals and also devotes himself to the collective good. However, his character does no only display traits that Christ however of Moses also because “he has actually killed a man and also has been away for a time before rejoining his people and becoming your leader”.29 Thus, finally Tom i do not care a brand-new leader that will guide civilization to “a new understanding that the location they inhabit here and also now”.30 In allude of fact, in the brand-new country over there is neither place for a young name nor for a Moses. This is the reason why boy name Joad is left behind in ~ the Colorado River and also Rose that Sharon’s baby as a Moses figure is stillborn.

In the last chapters that the novel the land is submarine by a sudden rainstorm the resembles a deluge. At first sight, this flood appears to was standing for renewal and also regeneration. However, during the flood increased of Sharon gives birth to a stillborn child. The Joads cannot bury it in the rain and also thus Uncle john decides come send the dead infant in a box down the flooding water. He sends out the stillborn boy away through the words: “’Go under an’ tell’ em. Go down in the street an’ rot an’ tell’ em the way. That’s the way you can talk (…). Walk on down now, an’ place in the street. Possibly they’ll recognize then” (Ch. 30, p. 528). This is plainly reminiscent of how Moses was sent down the flow in the Old Testament.

Hence, one deserve to say the “like the prophet of the Bible, this dead boy is sent to testify for the civilization killed and also ruined by their rulers”.31 However, one might additionally claim the the dead child indicates that there is no Promised soil in California or in other places to it is in found and that over there is no Moses to command his chosen civilization to a place of hope. Thus, eventually hope is scattered and also Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath even becomes a jeremiad.32


1 In the 1930s the area indigenous the Dakotas to the Texas panhandle to be hit by a major drought. This came to be known together the Dust Bowl. Cf. Cynthia Burkhead, college student Companion to man Steinbeck (London, 2002), p. 64.

2 At that time, numerous workers from Oklahoma migrated to California thus creating a crisis situation there. Together a result, incomes dropped and many families suffered from starvation. Cf. Luigi Owens, “Steinbeck’s The Grapes the Wrath”. In: A new Study overview to Steinbeck’s major Works, With crucial Explications. Tetsumaro Hayashi, ed. (New York/ London, 1993), pp. 90-91.

3 Cf. Jeffrey Schultz & Luchen Li, an essential Companion to man Steinbeck. A Literary referral to His Life and Work (New York, 2005), p. 90.

4 The Grapes that Wrath is the last novel in the labor Trilogy. The other two novels in this Trilogy space In Dubious Battle and Of Mice and also Men. In this novels Steinbeck expresses his sympathy v the workingman. Cf. Ibid.

5 Peter Lisca, The broad World of man Steinbeck quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes _of_Wrath. 06 Feb. 2009.

6 Cf. Schultz/Li, pp. 90-91.

7 Ibid, p. 91.

8 Cf. Aaron Davis, A Look at the significant Symbols in The Grapes that Wrath by man Steinbeck. Http://www.helium.com. 06 Feb. 2009.

9 Steinbeck had difficulties finding a title for his novel. Hence, his mam Carol Henning Steinbeck suggested a location taken from the text of The fight Hymn of the Republic: “He is trampling the end the vintage whereby the grapes the wrath are stored” (cf. Owen, Steinbeck’s The Grapes the Wrath, pp. 102-103).

10 Cf. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes _of_Wrath. 06 Feb. 2009.

11 luigi Owens, “The American Joads”. In: man Steinbeck’s The Grapes that Wrath. Harold Bloom, ed. (New York, 2007), p. 67.

12 In his job-related Of Plymouth Plantation (1620-50) william Bradford compare the pilgrims come “Moyses & the Isralits as soon as they went the end of Egipte” (ibid).

13 Cf. Davis, p. 1.

14 john Steinbeck, The Grapes the Wrath (London, 2000), Ch. 5, p. 39. In the following, it will certainly be quoted indigenous this edition.

15 Christine Deakers, The Grapes the Wrath and Biblical Allusions. Http://classic-american-fiction.suite101.com. 06 Feb. 2009, p. 1.

16 Cf. Davis, p. 1.

17 Burkhead, p. 78.

18 One might also say that the farmland that the Joads symbolizes your lives. Consequently, when it is taken far from them they need to die (cf. Man Steinbeck, strength Through Symbolism. Http://www.byzantinecommunications.com. 06 Feb. 2009).

19 “Throughout the novel grapes have symbolized the California Promised floor – and the American Eden – and also served to attach this new Promised Land v the biblical Canaan” (Owens, The Grapes the Wrath, p. 104).

20 Cf. Davis, p. 2 and http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/lotswife.html. 09 Feb. 2009.

21 Genesis 19:18. Cf. Http://bible.cc/genesis/19-18.htm. 09 Feb. 2009.

22 Deakers, p. 1.

23 Ibid.

24 Burkhead, p. 78.

25 Ibid.

26 Cf. Man Steinbeck, stamin Through Symbolism. Http://www.byzantinecommunications.com. 06 Feb. 2009.

27 Owens, The Grapes of Wrath, p. 103.

28 Cf. Davis, p. 3, Owens, The Grapes the Wrath, p. 103.

29 Paul J. Hunter, „Steinbeck’s wine of Affirmation.“ twentieth Century Interpretations that the Grapes that Wrath (New York, 1982), p. 40.

30 Owens, The American Joads, p. 74.

31 Davis, p. 3.

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32 A jeremiad is a prophecy of doom or a bitter lament. Cf. Owens, The American Joads, p. 74.