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

3. Conclusion

4 Works Cited

1. Introduction

In 1938 John Steinbeck began writing The Grapes of Wrath, a novel which was to acquire him his best accase. This novel is set throughout the Great Depression and also of the Dust Bowl1 in America. In The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck tries to expose the hardships and also plights of the people dispossessed from their lands throughout that time. People like the Joads from Oklahoma that were to come to be exploited miapprove workers in California, a place which they believed the Promised Land.2

Hence, Steinbeck acquired the reputation of being a “proletarian writer” bereason he sides through the prevalent worker.3 Therefore, The Grapes of Wrath likewise belongs to Steinbeck’s Labor Trilogy.4 What is more, his novel was sharply criticized and extremely much questioned at the time of its publication: “It was publicly banned and also burned by citizens, it was disputed on national radio hook-ups; yet over all, it was read”.5 Regardless of all this critique, in 1940 Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this novel and in 1962 he additionally won the Noble Prize for Literature.6

Hence, the Grapes of Wrath should be even more than ssuggest a piece of propagandistic composing. In point of truth, “Steinbeck patterned the book on much even more global themes, both the biblical story of Exodus, and also additionally humanity’s capacity for survival (…) in the challenge of (…) calamity”.7 It is extremely exciting that Steinbeck uses biblical parallels in his story. Thus, he alludes to the Old Testament, the Israelites and also the Exodus and also to Christ and also the New Testimony. In various other words, one could also say that Steinbeck takes the reader with the advancement of the Scriptures in order to disclose the migrants’ arising humanity and religious beliefs.8

This is currently suggested by the title of this novel for it is taken from The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe.9 The fact that Steinbeck’s great American novel appears to rely firmly on a biblical consciousness is suggested in this context bereason the lyrics of the Battle Hymn additionally refer to the biblical passage Revelation (14:19-20). This passage appeals to deliverance in the final judgement.10 Hence, as much as the novel is concerned, it is said that tright here will certainly also be deliverance of the employees after regulating all their hardships and emerging compassion and also humankind.

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As such, The Grapes of Wrath mirrors both elements from the Old and also the New Testament. Biblical icons from the Old Testament are of course the Exodus of the Joad family members, the Dust Bowl as the pester, their truck as Noah’s Ark and lastly the deluge. Key facets from the New Testimony are for circumstances the baptism of Tom Joad, the communion of Rose of Sharon and Jim Casy and Tom Joad as Christ-choose numbers.

In the following, this paper will address the feature of biblical signs in The Grapes of Wrath. First of all, it will be suggested that the Joads undergo the biblical story of Exodus in this novel. Secondly, it will be presented that both Jim Casy and Tom Joad are Christ numbers. What is more, it is additionally crucial to take a closer look at the role of humanity and compassion taking the instance of Rose of Sharon.

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

2.1. The Exodus of the Joads

Ever since the first writings and also reports of the Puritans and also the early american founders, America has actually been concerned as the Promised Land, the New Canaan or the New Jerusalem. Hence, for instance William Bradford, a colonist that explained the arrival of pilgrims at Plymouth concerned the pilgrims as chosen civilization comparable to the Israelites of the Old Testament.11 This compariboy Bradford and also his companions discovered justified bereason prefer the primitive Israelites they were likewise persecuted in their homelands for religious factors. Thus, the pilgrims left Europe for a new Promised Land also, i.e. America.12

For this reason, it is not surpclimbing that Steinbeck additionally encounters the Biblical story of Exodus in The Grapes of Wrath and also offers religious symbolism. Hence, The Grapes of Wrath mirrors the framework of the Biblical Exodus because it is additionally involved via the significant themes of hardships, journey, captivity and the Promised Land.13 Hence, one can case that the Joads experience an American Exodus. Forced off their land by pawn agents and also brokers during the Depression, the Joads shed their home and decide to go to the Promised Land also which is in their case California. They are convinced to go to the west shore for “here’s occupational tbelow, and it never gets cold. Why, you have the right to reach out everywhere and pick an orange”.14 Hence, comparable to the Israelites of the Old Testament they have to leave their house and cross the desert in order to reach the land also of “milk and honey”, a place of “fruitions of hope”.15

Because of this, the Joads prepare their journey to The golden state and also buy a truck which resembles Noah’s Ark.16 Most tellingly the Joad family has twelve members. This seems to attract a parallel in between the twelve Joads and also the twelve tribes of Israel. What is more, the Joads final meal prior to leaving Oklahoma for The golden state also resembles the Jewish Passover (cf. Ch. 10). At this occasion, the Joads kill pigs, eat their flesh and bones and also conserve the remainder for their long journey. The Joads last feast in Oklahoma like the Passover is commemorated in order to “remember the binding together of the family members through God’s promise that predelivered the Israelite’s trip from Egypte”.17 Hence, it is likewise informing that dealing with various hardships the Joads display a good will to survive.

Nonethemuch less, the Joad household seems to be falling acomponent after leaving for California. Hence, Grampa Joad is quickly to die after leaving his house, a home he did not intend to leave behind.18 He never wanted to go to the west coastline also though he experienced California as a place of hope and promise dreaming of grapes19 in abundance: “I’m gonna pick me a wash tub complete of grapes, an’ I’m gonna set in ‘em, an’ scrooge aroun’, an’ let the juice run down my pants” (Ch. 10, p. 107). Hence, his fate could be compared to that of Lot’s wife. Lot’s wife did not want to leave her house in Sodom either and also subsequently she was turned into a pillar of salt.20 This is further emphasized by the truth that at Grampa’s funeral Tom Joad cites Lot’s wife by saying: “’An’ Lot shelp unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord’” (Ch. 13, p. 167).21

However, the family better unravels because Noah Joad leaves them soon. As the Joads speak by the Coloraexecute River on their method to California and also the males desire to refresh themselves in the water, Noah undergoes a type of baptism. He then voices his intention of being different from the various other Joads and also to lead a life of his very own. He rejects their method of living and also desires to “abandon the idea system many Oakies adhere to”.22 Because of this, he refoffers to go on through them. In reality, Noah is extremely a lot attracted to the water. Hence, he “ike to lay forever before. Never before obtain hungry an’ never obtain sad. Lay in the water all life long, lazy as a brood sow in the mud” (Ch. 18, p. 239). He wants to walk down the river and also live exclusively by fishing. Therefore, one can say that Noah “is baptized right into a new life separating himself amethod from the Joads and migrants alike”.23

In truth, water is an extremely vital symbolic element in this novel. Not just is Noah baptized by the water but the Joads likewise end up being symbolically baptized as they sheight at the Coloraexecute River before crossing the desert. To the Joads the river becomes an “suffer of initiation and naming”.24 For at the river, the Joads are provided brand-new names, they end up being “Oakies” (cf. Ch. 18, p. 241). Thus, the reality of becoming miapprove laborers in California draws nearer to them. Similar to the Israelites who had to cross the Red Sea, the Joads are expecting hope and also a brand-new life on the various other side of the river. However before, “prefer those fleeing Egypt, the Joads are made to wait for their reward”25 and also encounter many difficulties and hardships simply like the Hebrews in the Exodus.

However before, at first sight, The golden state indeed seems to be a New Canaan. As the Joads arrive at the fertile San Joaquin Valley they seem to have indeed found the Promised Land:

They drove through Tehachapi in the morning glow, and the sunlight came up behind them, and also then – all of a sudden they saw the good valley below them. (…) The vineyards, the orchards, the excellent flat valley, green and also beautiful, the trees set in rows, and the farm residences.

And Pa shelp, “God Almighty!” (…) Ruthie and also Winarea scrambled dvery own from the car, and then they stood, silent and awestruck, embarrassed prior to the great valley. The distance was thinned through haze, and the land also grew softer and softer in the distance. (…) Ruthie and also Winarea looked at it, and Ruthie whispered, “It’s California.” (…) “’There’s fruit,’ he sassist aloud” (Ch. 18, p. 267).

Although this watch of California appears to be perfect the Joads still encounter difficulties tbelow. They likewise realize that world refuse to help them. Thus, for instance the gas terminal attendant sends them amethod for he thinks they are beggars. Hence, the Joads need to admit that they are not welcome in The golden state. In reality, the Californians are prefer the Egyptians in the Old Testament.

A extremely vital and also symbolic character in this novel is of course the former preacher Jim Casy who has actually come to be unsure of his idea. He is picked up by the Joads alengthy their way to California. Casy shows up to be fairly tolerant and believes in mankind and man’s herbal goodness. Hence, he tells Tom of his opinion that “’below ain’t no sin and also tright here ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people perform. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks perform is nice, and some ain’t nice, yet that’s as far as any male acquired a right to say’” (Ch. 4, p. 27). Casy is in point of truth a Christ-choose number. First of all, his initials are the very same as Jesus Christ. What is even more, favor Christ Casy also went into the wilderness for intense prayer prior to returning to culture. Hence, Casy withdraws himself for 4 years from the public in order to build his religious beliefs and also his commitment to mankind.26 Like Christ, Casy likewise becomes “a herald of a brand-new consciousness, bringing likewise with his commitment to humankind and his sacrifice a promise of a new beginning”.27

Hence, it is not surpincreasing that Casy likewise sacrifices himself for the Joads. In order to save Tom Joad Casy takes the blame for Tom hitting a guard in Hooverville. As Casy is brought away by the police he feels proud of his sacrifice understanding that it will have actually an excellent affect on Tom’s life. Hence, “n his lips there was a faint smile and also on his confront a curious look of conquest” (Ch. 20, p. 314). Later Casy is clubbed to death and also choose Christ he forgives his murderer by saying: “You don’ recognize what you’re a-doin’ ” (Ch. 26, p. 456). This plainly alludes to Christ’s statement to God once he was crucified. Christ likewise asked God to foroffer his murderers bereason they did not understand what they were doing. This is certainly an extremely effective act of forgiveness and it permits Casy to triumph over his murderers.

Casy’s fatality indeed baptizes Tom Joad and also for this reason he becomes a new Christ number.28 Hence, in prikid Tom has currently been called “Jesus Meek”. He currently takes up Casy’s ideals and devotes himself to the cumulative good. However before, his character does not just present traits of Christ yet of Moses too bereason “he has killed a male and has been away for a time prior to rejoining his people and also coming to be their leader”.29 Hence, ultimately Tom becomes a new leader who will certainly overview people to “a new expertise of the location they inhalittle here and also now”.30 In allude of reality, in the brand-new nation tbelow is neither place for a Noah nor for a Moses. This is the reason why Noah Joad is left behind at the Coloracarry out River and also Rose of Sharon’s baby as a Moses figure is stillborn.

In the final chapters of the novel the land is flooded by a sudden rainstorm that resembles a deluge. At first sight, this flood appears to stand for rebirth and also renewal. However before, in the time of the flood Rose of Sharon provides birth to a stillborn child. The Joads cannot bury it in the rain and thus Uncle John decides to sfinish the dead baby in a box dvery own the flooding water. He sends the stillborn child ameans via the words: “’Go down an’ tell’ em. Go dvery own in the street an’ rot an’ tell’ em that means. That’s the method you can talk (…). Go on down now, an’ lay in the street. Maybe they’ll understand then” (Ch. 30, p. 528). This is plainly reminiscent of exactly how Moses was sent dvery own the river in the Old Testament.

Hence, one deserve to say that “like the prophet of the Holy bible, this dead son is sent to testify for the world killed and also destroyed by their rulers”.31 However, one could additionally insurance claim that the dead boy implies that there is no Promised Land in California or in other places to be found and that tright here is no Moses to lead his favored world to a place of hope. Therefore, eventually hope is scattered and Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath also becomes a jeremiad.32


1 In the 1930s the location from the Dakotas to the Texas panhandle was hit by a severe drought. This came to be known as the Dust Bowl. Cf. Cynthia Burkhead, Student Companion to John Steinbeck (London, 2002), p. 64.

2 At that time, many type of employees from Oklahoma moved to The golden state for this reason developing a crisis situation tbelow. As a result, wperiods dropped and many type of family members endured from starvation. Cf. Louis Owens, “Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath”. In: A New Study Guide to Steinbeck’s Major Works, With Critical Explications. Tetsumaro Hayashi, ed. (New York/ London, 1993), pp. 90-91.

3 Cf. Jeffrey Schultz & Luchen Li, Critical Companion to John Steinbeck. A Literary Reference to His Life and Work (New York, 2005), p. 90.

4 The Grapes of Wrath is the last novel in the Labor Trilogy. The other two novels in this Trilogy are In Dubious Battle and also Of Mice and Men. In these novels Steinbeck expresses his sympathy through the workingguy. Cf. ibid.

5 Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck cited 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 Major Symbols in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. http://www.helium.com. 06 Feb. 2009.

9 Steinbeck had actually challenges finding a title for his novel. Hence, his wife Carol Henning Steinbeck suggested a title taken from the lyrics of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: “He is trampling out the vintage wright here the grapes of wrath are stored” (cf. Owen, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, pp. 102-103).

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

11 Louis Owens, “The Amerihave the right to Joads”. In: John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Harold Bloom, ed. (New York, 2007), p. 67.

12 In his job-related Of Plymouth Plantation (1620-50) William Bradford compares the pilgrims to “Moyses & the Isralits once they went out of Egipte” (ibid).

13 Cf. Davis, p. 1.

14 John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (London, 2000), Ch. 5, p. 39. In the complying with, it will be quoted from this edition.

15 Christine Deakers, The Grapes of 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 could likewise say that the farmland also of the Joads symbolizes their resides. Consequently, when it is taken amethod from them they need to die (cf. John Steinbeck, Strength Thunstable Symbolism. http://www.byzantinecommunications.com. 06 Feb. 2009).

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

20 Cf. Davis, p. 2 and also 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. John Steinbeck, Strength Thunstable Symbolism. http://www.byzantinecommunications.com. 06 Feb. 2009.

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

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

29 Paul J. Hunter, „Steinbeck’s Wine of Affirmation.“ Twentieth Century Interpretations of the Grapes of 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 Amerideserve to Joads, p. 74.