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Themes, Motifs, and Symbols in The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

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  • THE JOAD FARM
  • EXAMPLE
  • HIGHWAY 66
  • The Joad 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 with no one to turn to deals Grandpa quite a blow, and Pa a new set of challenges. Ma seems most dismayed by this loss of family history, and she wonders if California will be all it’s cracked up to be.
  • Highway 66 is a road of hope for the migrants searching for a better life after the loss of their homesteads and jobs. The migrants become a sort of 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.
  • THE GRAPES (AND OTHER FRUIT)
  • Throughout the beginning of the novel, Grandpa muses about getting to California and eating as many grapes as he can get his hands on. 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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