Rules: Read Me!
Admin: sue943
Legal / Conditions of Use

Page 2 of 2 < 1 2
Topic Options
#171501 - Wed May 28 2003 04:45 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sat Jun 15 2002
Posts: 2214
Loc: the amusement arcade of life
Quote:

Yes, there are biblical metaphors; but if there's a religious angle to the book, it's strikingly unorthodox.




That's precisely what I don't understand Tom. Steinbeck was evidently driven to write "The Grapes Of Wrath" because he'd been moved by the plight of the homeless, migrant workers and clearly felt strongly that their story needed telling. I would imagine that a fairly high percentage of the English speaking world in the 1930's and 40's would have been Christians. He knew that the factual content of the book would ruffle more than a few feathers, and must have realised that by making a mockery of their religious beliefs he was running the risk of having his book banned on the grounds of blasphemy and indecency.

Apart from the parallels which have already been mentioned, there are many others which would probably have shocked and antagonised many of his readers.

There are several references where it appears Jim Casy (J C), is intended to come across as a Christ-like figure and would be 'saviour' of the people, yet he was a preacher who openly admitted to taking advantage of the young girls under his care after he'd baptised them. He even likened himself to Christ wandering in the wilderness to "think his way out of a mess of troubles." Casy, like Jesus, also died a martyr for his cause uttering his final words "You fellas don' know what you're a doin'", surely too similar to the words of Christ as he was being crucified to be a coincidence. Tom was a follower, or disciple of Casy's and he too alludes to becoming omnipresent after his death in his speech about him "bein' ever'where."

There's the disturbing image Steinbeck gives us of the body of the stillborn baby floating away in the floodwater in an impromptu apple box Moses basket. Then finally we have the scene where the biblical Rose of Sharon's namesake feeds the starving man, quite literally giving of the milk of human kindness.

If Steinbeck was so intent in getting his message across to as wide an audience as possible, then why take the chance of his book being banned before it had hardly seen the light of day?
_________________________
fully paid up member of paronomasiacs anonymous

Top
#171502 - Sat May 31 2003 06:14 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
LindaC007 Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sun Dec 02 2001
Posts: 2224
Loc: North Carolina USA
Tom, I have known--still know--people who think they are true Christains, but I think they are fanatics. I was raised in a religion in which we were literally taught to be scared to death of going to a fiery Hell. When my daughter was three years old, I took her to a Vacation Bible School, which is where children make crafts, and hear Bible stories, etc. At the end of the evening, the preacher got up and he told the children, "I don't want to scare you, but if you died tonight without Jesus, you would go to hell." Needless to say, I never took her back for the next session. So, what Steinbeck speaks of in the Weedpatch is still going strong.

Izzi, the extra chapters that Steinbeck has put between his story chapters could be put together in a separate book, couldn't they?

Yes, leaving the land killed grandpa--but I'd drugged him, too. Remember Muley?

What the ending says to me, is that no matter what happens, somehow Mama Joad will see her family survive. Inch by inch, day by day, the Joads will hang on, and she will have her house--just a small house, but I see an orange tree in her yard, and everything inside spotless.
I want to tell each of you that it is a pleasure being in the book club with you.
_________________________
I dont think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto

Top
#171503 - Sat May 31 2003 07:40 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
ren33 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11355
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
...and I want to say sorry, once again I have been considerably absent...I have been up to my ears in work.However, I really loved the book (GREAT choice , once more folks) and your comments as usual were so good. I really love being part of all this Thanks so much.
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#171504 - Sat May 31 2003 08:06 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
sebastiancat Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Sep 05 2002
Posts: 527
Loc: Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA
Thanks from myself as well. This is the first month I have been able to join in and it was great to get the different viewpoints and have topics to think about. I'm looking forward to June's selection "Adam Bede".
_________________________
'Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?---Henry Ward Beecher

Top
#171505 - Sun Jun 01 2003 04:29 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sat Jun 15 2002
Posts: 2214
Loc: the amusement arcade of life
I've been trying to find a quote I'd read somewhere which was purported to have been taken from an old interview with Steinbeck. Although without actually being able to find it again, I'm unable to verify its authenticity.

One section was regarding a question about his biblical metaphors. I can't recall the wording now, but Steinbeck would neither confirm nor deny intentionally using biblical themes, and replied to the effect that if people read things into his book that way, then that was their choice. Sitting on the fence like that just seemed a bit of a cop out to me, and I felt rather disappointed that it had the impression of demeaning his work somewhat. Personally, I thought that the biblical imagery played a highly effective role in the storyline and without it the book wouldn't have been nearly so powerful.

This was certainly an historically significant book, as SillyLily said earlier in the thread, it is still used widely in schools and colleges as background material for that period of American history. The Great Depression and dust bowl era affected so many people to a greater or lesser degree, and Steinbeck shows us that although the wealthy had more to lose, the poor were far more vulnerable.

It would be difficult to close the book without wondering what might have become of the Joads and, of course, the real migrant families. I've read quite a few personal accounts by people who lived through those times and the stories of their courageous struggle had quite an affect on me. I've unearthed some fascinating material whilst researching archives.

If anyone is interested, this webpage, The Migrant Experience, is packed with information and has many other links within the body of the text.

An excerpt from the above mentioned link:

quote
>>>As World War II wore on, the state of the economy, both in California and across the nation, improved dramatically as the defense industry geared up to meet the needs of the war effort. Many of the migrants went off to fight in the war. Those who were left behind took full advantage of the job opportunities that had become available in West Coast shipyards and defense plants. As a result of this more stable lifestyle, numerous Dust Bowl refugees put down new roots in California soil, where their descendants reside to this day.<<<

I had assumed that the Weedpatch Camp was purely fictitious, but it was an actual camp, (The Arvin Federal Camp), run just as described by Steinbeck, and is still used by migrant workers today. Read more about its history at www.weedpatchcamp.com
_________________________
fully paid up member of paronomasiacs anonymous

Top
Page 2 of 2 < 1 2

Moderator:  LeoDaVinci, ren33, TabbyTom