The Grapes of Wrath

by: John Steinbeck

Chapters 4–6

If Tom Joad emerges as the novel’s moral consciousness, then Jim Casy emerges as its moral mouthpiece. Although he claims he has lost his calling as a preacher, Casy remains a great talker, and he rarely declines an opportunity to make a speech. At many points, Steinbeck uses him to voice the novel’s themes. Here, for instance, Casy describes the route by which he left the pulpit. After several sexual affairs with young women in his congregation, Casy realized that the immediate pleasures of human life were more important than lofty concepts of theological virtue. He decided that he did not need to be a preacher to experience holiness: simply being an equal among one’s fellow human beings was sacred in its own way. This philosophy is lived out by the Joads, who soon discover that open, sincere fellowship with others is more precious than any longed-for commodity. Casy further emphasizes the virtues of companionship when he chastises Muley Graves. The man has allowed his family to leave for California without him, for the sake of practicality, but Casy believes that togetherness and cooperation should always take precedence over practicality.