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Role of Religious Impact in the Grapes of Wrath

Authors usually use religious allusions to further the significance of a novel. It is when the reader recognizes and understands these influences that the significance of the novel can be genuinely understood. In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck utilizes quite a few Christian references to additional the underlying which means of his novel. Steinbeck’s use of intricate techniques to portray Casy as a Christ figure, Tom Joad as a disciple, the family members as a bigger “family” of humanity, and the Joads’ as the Israelites facilitate the novel’s Christian influence.



Initially, Steinbeck casts the character played by Jim Casy as a Christ-like figure. Jim Casy travels along with the Joad household on an expedition from Oklahoma to California. Casy, an ex-minister who has relinquished his former Christian beliefs, is now strictly practicing abstinence. “Casy’s new ‘religion’ is primarily based on adore and a belief in each and every person’s soul as properly as an all-inclusive soul, the ‘Holy Spirit’ of humanity” (Stanley Ed. 107). Jim Casy’s initials, J.C., also serve as confirmation of his character’s function as a symbol of Jesus Christ. Even Casy’s actions correspond to these of Christ: he is first introduced in the novel after evading society by escaping into the wilderness for a time of solitude and reflection. This seclusion parallels Christ’s retreat from the globe prior to beginning his mission to convert society. Also, Casy accepts the deputy’s thrashing and receives punishment for Tom’s actions. Jim’s altruistic scuffle inevitably positions him as a leader in the fight against oppression. His life is sacrificed for his selfless actions, and his final words resemble these of Christ in his final hours: “You fellas don’ know what you’re doin'” (Stanley Ed. 107). Casy’s actions indirectly persuade Tom Joad to follow him along the very same selfless path. Casy’s person identity is a correct expression of a greater self, although this self-realization causes him to be condemned by society, and is also the reason for his crucifixion.

Steinbeck’s novel also resembles the New Testament in its language and imagery, and in the principles it portrays. Jim Casy’s teachings, along with his unselfishness, recall Christ’s wisdom and his crucifixion. This point of view furthers the similarities amongst the twelve Joads and the twelve apostles. Connie is representative of a Judas figure who abandons the family members for funds. Even though the Judeo-Christian allusions are incredibly compelling, the novel is not an exercising in holiness. Early in the novel, Steinbeck conveys a definite anti-religious mood, which is elucidated when Casy clarifies why he has turned away from his ministry. In addition, these who sermonize on sin and damnation in the migrant camps are regarded with disparagement (Stanley Ed. 107,113,118).



Jesus started his mission following a retreat of isolation in the wilderness for a period of reflection and sanctification. He enters the novel after Christ’s equivalent withdrawal, and informs Tom that he “went off alone, an’ I sat and figured” (Shockley 267). Subsequently, as Tom converges with Casy in the protestor’s tent, Casy reveals that he has “been a-goin’ into the wilderness like Jesus to attempt to locate out sumpin” (Shockley 267). Steinbeck is undoubtedly conscious of this parallel. Also, significantly like Jesus Christ, Casy has discarded an obsolete religion, and is presently in the method of substituting it with a modern gospel. In the opening scene, Jim and Tom reminisce about earlier days, when Casy advocated the old religion, thereby illustrating the prior idea of transgression and fault. Presently, however, Casy explicates his denunciation of a religion that he felt corrupted him with its emphasis on natural human desires. The Adam of the Fall is approaching exorcism via these new indulgences (Shockley 267).



Tom Joad is cast as a disciple of the Christ figure, Jim Casy. Steinbeck’s compelling touch is shown when Tom expresses his wish for Casy’s function. With this catharsis, John Steinbeck introduces allegory he does not succumb to its unyielding eminence, due to the fact Tom is, in essence, absolutely nothing like Casy. Tom Joad is far more sadistic, far far more filled with anger. Obtaining been tutored by Casy, even so, Tom may ultimately prove even much more triumphant as a realistic missionary. One particular may possibly notice that if Casy symbolizes Christ, Tom ought to be identified with Saint Paul – the sensible, harsh organizer. The metaphorical connection via which Tom is transformed and learns to take responsibility is profoundly realized, and abounds with importance. The significance is not merely justified as a technical inevitability, but since it is evidence of Casy’s veracity as a man and a teacher. The parallels to Saint Paul would be mere technical particulars if they had been not felt so intensely (Levent 104).



Following Casy’s brutal death, Tom requires it upon himself to perform the function of Casy’s disciple. Tom has been educated by his mentor, and now he assumes his mentor’s responsibilities. Two of Christ’s disciples had been named Thomas, and many of the disciples selected by Christ were culled from folks significantly like the Joads. Ma Joad asks Tom what need to come about if he loses his life, and he replies in the manner taught to him by Casy:

“Then is don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where – wherever you appear. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry men and women can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way children laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our people consume the stuff they raise an’ reside in the houses they create – why I’ll be there. See? God, I’m talkin’ like Casy.” (Shockley 269)

Steinbeck uses the Joad family members to symbolize one thing far higher. The Joads encounter many adversities, deprivations, and casualties, and towards the finish of the story nearly cease to exist. Nonetheless, the tone of the novel is buoyant. This encouraging feeling is derived from “the development of the Joad family members as they start to comprehend a bigger group consciousness” (Stanley Ed. 110). The maturity of this theme can be seen predominantly in Ma Joad, starting with her need to keep the household close. Ma exclaims in the final chapter, “Use’ ta be the fambly was fust. It ain’t so now. It’s anyone. Worse off we get, the much more we got to do” (Stanley Ed. 110). The foremost symbol in Steinbeck’s operate is the family members, which stands for “the greater ‘family’ of humanity” (Stanley Ed. 113). The Joads are at the heart of the powerful traits of the novel nonetheless, they exemplify human vigor and frailty. Hazards in nature and human civilization impair the household, and they endure economic and environmental disasters, just as all mankind should.

Close to the end of the novel, the Joads begin to realize that they are members of a larger household. The land is a representation of person distinctiveness what the Joad loved ones suffers when they drop the property farm is a loss of identity, which they strive to recover in the course of their expedition, and in California. Pa Joad, in particular, loses his strength after the Joads are “tractored off” his family’s land (Stanley Ed. 113). Following their loss, he must relinquish his influence in the household to Ma (Stanley Ed. 110, 113). The symbol of loved ones as a greater loved ones of humanity is furthered as the Joads continue westward towards California. The Joads encounter the Wilsons, who help them bury their deceased patriarch by unselfishly supplying a quilt. Also, as the Joads arrive in Hooverville, Ma Joad aids feed the starving young children of the camp, even although her own family members barely has sufficient to consume.



An comparison can be produced among the Joads’ journey from the desiccated Southwest to California and the movement of the Young children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. The Joads, like the Children of Israel, arrive in a area overflowing with milk and honey nonetheless, the contemporary Canaanites annihilate their surplus animals, fruits, and vegetables, although the Joads turn out to be sick from starvation. California, as a result, becomes the boondocks, and the Joads are obligated to deviate indefinitely, the land of guarantee remaining an illusion. Also, the resentment the Joads meet with in the course of their journey across U.S. Highway 66 from the administrator of the roadside camp and the filling station associates at the desert border recalls the way in which the Israelites were treated by tribes such as the Amorites and Midianites. The raggedy gentleman at the roadside camp, along with the dejected Okie and his son at the Colorado River, satisfy the responsibility of the spies who want data relating to the land of Canaan. Like the spies, these informants validate the fortune of the land in which the Joads are arriving, and attempt to warn them about the harsh therapy which they must anticipate. Nonetheless, the Joads do not imitate the performance of the Israelites: “With absolutely nothing but misery behind them” (Crockett 110), the Joads are obligated to move onward, into higher wretchedness (Crockett 110).



John Steinbeck’s complex presentation of Jim Casy as a Christ-like figure, Tom Joad as a disciple, the family as a bigger “family” of humanity, and the Joads’ as the Israelites aid contribute to the novel’s Christian influence. The Christian foundation of this novel furthers the reader’s understanding of the unimaginable hardships the Joads and other families endured for the duration of the Depression. Often, we learn, men and women may possibly have to sacrifice their house, their identity, or even sacrifice themselves for the widespread very good.

Operates Citied

Crockett, H Kelly. “The Bible and The Grapes of Wrath.” A Casebook on The Grapes of Wrath. Ed. Agnes McNeill Donohue. NY: Thomas Y. Cromwell Company, 1968.

Hinton, Rebecca. “Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.” The Explicator Vol 56. 2 (Winter 1998). 30 November 2004 http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=&did=00000002681734T&SrchMode=1&sid=three&Fmt=three&Vln.html.

Levent, Howard. The Novels of John Steinbeck: A Essential Study. University of Missouri Press, 1974.

Shockley, Martin. “Christian symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath.” Steinbeck and His Critics. Ed. E.W. Tedlock, Jr. and C.V. Wicker. University of New Mexico Press, 1957.

Stanley, Deborah A, ed. Novels for Students. Vol 7. London: Gale Group, 1999.
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