Themes, Motifs, and Symbols in The Grapes of Wrath

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Themes, Motifs, and Symbols in The Grapes of Wrath
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Grapes of Wrath Lesson Plans

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

The universal themes of the pursuit of the American Dream, perseverance, and the struggle against injustice, are still found in many aspects of American life today. As a result, The Grapes of Wrath has been hailed as one of the defining novels of American literature.

Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

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  • HIGHWAY 66
  • The farm has been in the family for three generations and means everything to Pa and Grandpa. Being run off their land by a heartless bank deals Grandpa quite a blow and Pa a new set of challenges. Ma is dismayed by this loss of family history, and wonders if California is all it’s cracked up to be.
  • Highway 66 is a road of hope for the migrants searching for a better life. The migrants become a family amongst themselves, forging new friendships with others in need. The Joads find this friendship with the Wilsons, whose kindness during Grandpa’s death is not forgotten.
  • Grandpa muses about eating as many grapes as he can get his hands on in California. Later, Steinbeck uses the grapes to symbolize the growing unrest in the clash between the migrant workers and the larger farmers, who are withholding an opportunity of a better life from these destitute and desperate people.
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