Top 100 Literature Essay Topics - 2023
The use of motif in “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a novel that explores the experiences of the Joad family, a group of sharecroppers who are forced to migrate westward from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck employs various motifs that contribute to the overall meaning of the story. One of the most prominent motifs in the novel is that of the journey. Steinbeck uses the journey motif to represent the physical and emotional struggles that the Joads and other migrants face as they move westward in search of a better life.
The journey motif is established early in the novel when Tom Joad is released from prison and begins his journey back to his family's farm. From there, the Joad family embarks on a long and arduous journey westward to California, facing numerous obstacles along the way, including car trouble, illness, and police harassment. The journey becomes a symbol of hope, as the Joads and other migrants believe that they will find a better life in California.
Throughout the novel, Steinbeck employs various images and symbols to convey the hardships and struggles that the Joads face on their journey. For example, the dust that plagues the farmers in Oklahoma is a recurring image in the novel, symbolizing the hardship and poverty of their lives. The dust is also used to represent the wider economic and social struggles of the Great Depression, highlighting the harsh realities that the Joads are facing.
Another recurring motif in the novel is that of the turtle. The turtle first appears in Chapter 3, when it is described as crossing the road, facing many obstacles along the way. The turtle's journey becomes a metaphor for the journey of the Joad family and other migrants, as they also face numerous obstacles on their journey westward. The turtle's journey also represents the resilience and perseverance of the migrants, as they continue to move forward despite the challenges they face.
Steinbeck also uses the motif of music throughout the novel. The Joads and other migrants frequently sing and play music together, providing a sense of community and hope in the midst of their struggles. The music is used to express the emotions of the characters and to provide a sense of comfort and joy in difficult times.
Finally, the motif of the bank is used throughout the novel to represent the larger economic and social forces that are causing the struggles of the Joads and other migrants. The bank is portrayed as an uncaring and oppressive force, foreclosing on the farms of struggling farmers and driving them into poverty. The Joads and other migrants see the bank as the enemy, and their struggles against it become a symbol of their struggle against the wider economic and social forces that are causing their hardship.
In conclusion, John Steinbeck uses various motifs in The Grapes of Wrath to convey the struggles and hardships of the Joad family and other migrants during the Great Depression. The journey, the dust, the turtle, music, and the bank are all used to convey the physical and emotional struggles of the characters, as well as the wider economic and social forces that are shaping their lives. These motifs contribute to the overall meaning of the novel, highlighting the resilience and perseverance of the human spirit in the face of adversity.