The Grapes of Wrath
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Half of the chapters in The Grapes of Wrath focus on the dramatic westward journey of the Joad family, while the others possess a broader scope, providing a more general picture of the migration of thousands of Dust Bowl farmers. Discuss this structure. Why might Steinbeck have chosen it? How do the two kinds of chapters reinforce each other?
2. What is Jim Casy’s role in the novel? How does his moral philosophy govern the novel as a whole?
3. Many critics have noted the sense of gritty, unflinching realism pervading The Grapes of Wrath. How does Steinbeck achieve this effect? Do his character portrayals contribute, or his description of setting, or both?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the development of Tom Joad as a character. How does he grow throughout the book? What effects do Jim Casy’s imprisonment and death have on his development?
2. Discuss the ending of the novel. Does it fit aesthetically with the rest of the book? Is it believable for Rose of Sharon to assume the role of a transcendent giver of life? Does the ending effectively embody thematic trends within the novel’s development? Does it provide hope, or does it leave the reader unsettled?
3. The third chapter of the novel depicts a turtle crossing the Oklahoma highway. How does this chapter symbolize the story of the migrants?
4. Think about the book in terms of Steinbeck’s intent for it. Do you think it successfully raises sympathy for the plight of the Dust Bowl farmers, or does it seem untrustworthy in some way?
by teamME815, August 10, 2012
Tom, after he gets turned away from the north town decides to go around the angry californians to a work camp safe for his family and away from cops
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by fallen_angel14, August 16, 2012
Ma Joad is basically the only reason the family is still together. She gives support to the family and carries most of the burden
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