Biblical Allusions And Imagery In Steinbeck
& # 8217 ; s The Grapes Of Wrath Essay, Research Paper
Biblical Allusions and Imagery in Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck ever makes it a point to cognize about his topics foremost
manus. His narratives ever have some factual footing behind them. Otherwise, he
does non believe that they will be of any value beyond artistic feeling.
Therefore, most of his novels take topographic point in California, the site of his birth
and immature life. In readying for composing his novels, Steinbeck would frequently
travel with people about whom he was traveling to compose. The Grapes of Wrath was no
exclusion to his other plants. To fix for it, he joined migrators in Oklahoma
and rode with them to California. When he got to California, he lived with them,
fall ining them in their pursuit for work. By printing these experiences and
tests of the migrators he achieved an consequence that won him the Nobel Prize for
literature in 1962. The authorship of The Grapes of Wrath coincided with the Great
Depression. This clip of adversity and battle for the remainder of America gave
Steinbeck inspiration for his work. Other peoples & # 8217 ; narratives of mundane life
became issues for Steinbeck. His Hagiographas spoke out against those who kept the
oppressed in poorness and therefore was branded as a Communist because of his
& # 8220 ; voice. & # 8221 ; Although, it did go a best seller and receive countless awards, his
book was banned in many schools and libraries. However, critics ne’er attacked
The Grapes of Wrath on the artistic degree and they still consider it a
attractively down work of art. More than any other American novel, it
successfully embodies a modern-day societal job of national range in an
artistically feasible expression.1 In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck utilizes
Biblical imagination and allusions to exemplify the battle of the Joad household as
a direct analogue with that of the Hebrew people.
Steinbeck bolsters the strength of construction and character development
in the book through Biblical allusions and imagination. Peter Lisca has noted that
the novel reflects the three-part division of the Old Testament hegira history
which includes imprisonment, journey, and the promised land.2 The Joads & # 8217 ; narrative is
a direct analogue with that of the Hebrews. Just as the Hebrews were prisoners
of the Pharaoh, the Joads & # 8217 ; are prisoners of their farm. Both make long and
backbreaking journeys until they reach their promised land. Israel is the concluding
finish for the Hebrews and California plays the same function for the Joads.
Hunter references several of the analogues in the novel. When the Joads embark on
their journey, there are 12 members which corresponds to the 12 folk
of Israel who are go forthing the old order behind. They mount the truck in Ark
manner, two by two, as Noah Joad observes from the land. This chapter 10
scene is an allusion to the narrative of Noah & # 8217 ; s Ark: 3
& # 8220 ; . . . the remainder swarmed up on top of the burden, Connie and Rose of Sharon, Pa and
Uncle John, Ruthie and Winfield, Tom and the sermonizer. Noah stood on the land
looking up at the great burden of them sitting on top of the truck. 4 & # 8243 ;
Grampa & # 8217 ; s character is an allusion to the narrative of Lot & # 8217 ; s married woman. He is unable to
come to clasps with the chance of a new life, and his remembrance of the yesteryear
consequences in his decease. Lot & # 8217 ; s married woman died in the same mode. She turned into a
pillar of salt when she looked back into her yesteryear. The analogue is emphasized
by the Bible poetry, a direct citation from Lot, which Tom uses to bury him
with.5 Uncle John & # 8217 ; s character resembles that of the Biblical character Ananias
because he withholds money from the common fund merely as Ananias did. Both
characters are similar in their selfish desires and they each undergo a minute
of grace when they admit to their wickednesss therefore going closer to God.
Lewis suggests that Tom Joad is an enlightening illustration of what
Steinbeck considers to be the picaresque saint.7 Tom besides serves as a Moses-
type leader of the people as they journey toward the promised land. Like Moses,
he has killed a adult male and had been off for a clip before rejoining his people and
going their leader. Like Moses he has a younger brother ( Aaron-Al ) who serves
as a medium for the leader. Shortly before making the finish, he hears
and rejects the evil studies of those who have visited the land ( Hebrew & # 8220 ; undercover agents & # 8221 ; –
Sooners traveling back ) .8 This parallel ends before the completion of the narrative
merely as most others in the novel do. Many analogues are non worked out
wholly and as Hunter notes, the deficiency of elaborate analogue seems to be
deliberate, for Steinbeck is reflecting a broader background of which the hegira
narrative is merely a part.9 Several Biblical allusions come from New Testament
narratives. Most prevailing among these allusions is the function of Jim Casy as a
Christ figure. Hunter provides a plentiful supply of analogues between the life
of Jim Casy and the christ whose initials he bears. Just as Christ did, he
embarks upon his mission after a long period of speculation in the wilderness.
He corrects the old thoughts of faith and justness and altruistically forfeits
himself for his cause.10 Unlike the analogue of Tom and Moses, this one is
followed and comp
leted throughout the novel. The Annunciation of Casy’s message
and mission sets the ideological way of the novel before the journey
Begins merely as the christ construct influences Judaic idea for centuries
before the New Testament times.11 Merely bit by bit does he do an feeling on
the Joads who likewise to the Jews were used to populating under the old
dispensation. Steinbeck eventually completes the analogue when Casy tells his
tormentors, merely as Christ did, & # 8220 ; You don & # 8217 ; t cognize what you & # 8217 ; re a doin & # 8217 ; . & # 8221 ; 12
Steinbeck uses other New Testament allusions in add-on to that of the
christ. One of them is the concluding scene of the novel with Rose of Sharon. Just
as Mary did, she becomes the female parent of all the Earth, regenerating the universe with
her compassion and love.13 Hunter makes several decisions from this scene.
First he notes that it is an imitation of the Madonna and her kid, babe Jesus.
He besides states that by giving life to the alien she is symbolically giving
organic structure and vino. In making this she accepts the larger vision of Jim Casy and her
committedness fulfills the footings of redemption harmonizing to Casy & # 8217 ; s ultimate plan.14
Geismar notes the symbolic significance of the concluding scene. He states that Rose of
Sharon & # 8217 ; s sacrificial act represents the concluding dislocation of old attitudes and
flood tides the novel & # 8217 ; s scriptural movement.15
Harmonizing to Robert Con Davis, Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s usage of Biblical imagination shows
a echt sense of & # 8220 ; reassertion & # 8221 ; and trust in an otherwise inhospitable modern
Once once more, a Steinbeck novel has related the predicament of an laden
people. This clip it is a parallel between the Joads and the Hebrews. The
novel reflects the history of the chosen people from their physical bondage to
their religious release by agencies of a messiah.17 In The Grapes of Wrath,
Steinbeck does more than use the novel to voice his societal positions. He uses
the novel as his medium to relay another set of his beliefs, his spiritual positions.
Warren Gallic notes that Steinbeck feels as though traditional faith no
longer enables a adult male to see himself as he is, that is Torahs are non applicable to
state of affairss in which modern-day adult male finds himself.18 Sin, as he sees it, is a
affair of the manner one looks at things. Steinbeck illustrates this feeling best
through the undermentioned citation made by Jim Casy in the novel, & # 8220 ; There ain & # 8217 ; t [ sic ]
no wickedness and there ain & # 8217 ; t [ sic ] no virtuousness. There & # 8217 ; s merely stuff people do.20 & # 8243 ; The
overall subject of the novel is that faith is a sort of affliction.21 Once
once more, Steinbeck has embodied a serious job of society in a attractively
structured novel. It is through the usage of Biblical allusions and imagination that
he gives The Grapes of Wrath a powerful message along with pure artistic mastermind.
1 Robert Con Davis, erectile dysfunction. Twentieth Century Interpretations of The Grapes of
Wrath. ( Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc. , 1982 ) , p. 1.
2 Peter Lisca. & # 8220 ; The Dynamics of Community in The Grapes of Wrath, & # 8221 ; in From
Irving to Steinbeck: Surveies of American Literature in Honor of Harry R. Warfel.
( Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1972 ) , rpt. in Hunter, J. Paul.
& # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation, & # 8221 ; in Twentieth Century Interpretations of The
Grapes of Wrath, edited by Robert Con Davis. ( Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc. ,
1982 ) , p. 40.
3 J. Paul Hunter. & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation, & # 8221 ; in Twentieth Century
Interpretations of The Grapes of Wrath, edited by Robert Con Davis. ( Englewood,
New jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc. , 1982 ) , p. 40.
4 John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath. ( New York: Bantam Books, 1965 ) , p. 84.
5 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 40.
6 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 40.
7 R.W.B. Lewis. & # 8220 ; The Picaresque Saint, & # 8221 ; in Twentieth Century Interpretations of
The Grapes of Wrath, edited by Robert Con Davis. ( Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall,
Inc. , 1982 ) , p. 144.
8 Michael G. Barry, & # 8220 ; Degrees of Mediation and their Political Value in
Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s The Grapes of Wrath, & # 8221 ; in The Steinbeck Question, edited by Donald R.
Baronial. ( Troy, NY: Whitson Publishing Company, 1993 ) , p. 109.
9 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 42.
10 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 41.
11 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 41.
12 George Ehrenhaft. Barron & # 8217 ; s Book Notes on John Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s The Grapes of Wrath.
( Woodbury, NY: Barron & # 8217 ; s Educational Series, Inc. , 1984 ) , p. 19-20.
13 Keith Ferrell. John Steinbeck: The Voice of the Land. ( New York, NY: M. Evans
and Company, Inc. , 1986 ) , p 110-11.
14 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 46.
15 Maxwell Geismar. & # 8220 ; John Steinbeck: Of Wrath or Joy, & # 8221 ; in Writers in Crisis: The
American Novel, 1925-1940. ( New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1961 ) , p. 265.
16 Davis, Twentieth Century Interpretations of The Grapes of Wrath. p. 4.
17 Hunter, & # 8220 ; Steinbeck & # 8217 ; s Wine of Affirmation. & # 8221 ; p. 40.
18 Warren French. John Steinbeck: Twayne & # 8217 ; s United States Authors Series. ( New
York, NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc. , 1961 ) , p. 109-111.
19 Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. p. 328.
20 Gallic, John Steinbeck: Twayne & # 8217 ; s United States Authors Series. p. 108-109.