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Because the Joads are meant to be universal figures rather than specific people, reading about their grim problems and determined struggle to survive is often a particularly moving experience.Tom’s move from self-interested independence to social awareness is a familiar and stirring young man’s journey.
This narrative choice has two opposite, and often simultaneous, effects: It both elevates and universalizes the Joads and makes them difficult to care about as individuals.
While the Joads are by no means flat or allegorical characters, Steinbeck intentionally lets their deep inner psychologies go unexplored, preferring to focus on the ways in which they represent every other Dust Bowl farmer and the ways in which the changes they undergo during their move to California resemble the changes every farmer endures.
Pa Joad is the broken-down father, the man who longs to lead his family but whose spirit is broken by the constant stream of disasters the Great Depression brings.
And after she gets pregnant, Rose of Sharon is the spirit of motherhood made flesh, a 1930s-era Virgin Mary figure.
In contrast, Steinbeck looms as an ever-present authorial presence.
He lards the narrative with deserts, floods, and dramatic births, setting his characters against a biblical backdrop.Ma’s determination to hide the death of Granma during the desert crossing is a miracle of motherly strength and selflessness.Pa’s attempt to construct the dam sums up the touching determination of fathers to protect their families.The big corporations soon bought out most of the land in the Mid-West and many families were soon forced to make their living by other means.The shift of these families out west to a limited number of jobs damaged the United States’ economy.Steinbeck’s grand scale not only evokes strong reactions, but it also paradoxically suppresses them.Many novelists try to erase evidence of their own presence from their fiction, thereby allowing the reader to forget she is encountering a story that has been constructed by a writer and enjoy the illusion that she is reading about real people.In the end, the reaction The Grapes of Wrath evokes will depend on the mood and mentality of the individual reader.Some may find the epic sweep of the Joads’ life inspiring and devastating precisely because the Joads can represent all of humanity; others may find that the Joads’ everyman status makes them opaque or even boring.In Chapter 25 of the Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck summarizes the human nature of self-destruction causing the corporations to showcase their greed and how it affected the laborers of California.Steinbeck begins the section by painting a picture of California in (paragraph 1 and 2) in order to show how beautiful the country was when it was untouched by corporations.