Steinbeck uses the grapes as symbols of plenty. The grapes correspond to the cluster of grapes which Joshua and Oshea bring back from their first trip into the rich land of Canaan as told in The Bible. Grampa alludes to this meaning of the grapes when he says that he is going to sit in a tub full of grapes in California.
Steinbeck's title also corresponds to Julia Ward Howe's song "The
Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1862) from which Steinbeck took his
title. In his novel, however, the grapes symbolize both plenty and renewal,
and bitterness and wrath. The latter meaning alludes to Revelation XIV
which states that those who "worship the beast and his image"
will "drink of the wine of the wrath of God." It further says
that "the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered
the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath
of God." In the novel, the migrants grow angry at the deplorable
conditions in California, and Steinbeck uses Biblical parallels to depict
this. The Biblical parallels also suggest that the migrants are acting
as the agents of God's wrath and judgment and that their triumph is inevitable.
1.) What do you think of Casy's viewpoint that there is no sin and there
is no virtue and only the actions of people?
2.) Why do certain members of the party drop out--Grampa, Granma, Noah, Connie, Tom?
3.) What happens to the surviving members of the family and who is responsible for their future?
4.) Can you determine Steinbeck's politics from this novel? What are they?
5.) What is his point of view towards the readers?
6.) Describe the process of the education of the Joads.
7.) Comment on the relationship between the narrative and the intercalary chapters.
8.) Comment on the symbolism of the title and the grapes in the novel.
9.) Analyze Steinbeck's treatment of nature.
10.) What is the significance of the Weedpatch Camp?
11.) Comment on the significance of the Biblical parallels and the Christian symbolism in the novel.
12.) Analyze the conflict between the agrarian way of life and the modern technological methods of farming.
13.) Critically comment on the development of Tom's character.
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