English 121 Spring 2008 MSU

Where writers meet

Grapes of Wrath appendix

Posted by ryanhaidle07 on April 13, 2008

Ryan Haidle

English 121

April 13, 2008

Appendix for the Grapes of Wrath

The plot of Steinbeck’s work of art is rooted in the historical and social events of 1930s America, specifically the environmental disaster coined the Dust Bowl. Drought had been a serious problem for the Great Plains region of the United States for many decades prior to the 1930s. In the late 1880s, the land began to be settled by sharecroppers for agricultural purposes, but a particularly severe drought in late 1800’s brought such widespread crop destruction that, in some areas, as many as 90 percent of the settlers abandoned their claims. During this drought period came several reports of dust clouds covering the land, suffocating livestock and impeding visibility. In the early twentieth century, greater rainfall and the replacement of bare fields with sod helped restore the agricultural productivity of the Plains states. Meanwhile, poor farming techniques of numerous sharecroppers had decimated the agricultural capacity of the land. The harsh cotton crops were also robbing the soil of all its nutrients. These two conditions combined to make it difficult for farmers to bring in a profitable crop.

Due to these harsh conditions, the Joad family decides to start a journey across the U.S. in search of work in California. Rumors said that there were many jobs available at the grape plantations there. On the journey the family encounters several hardships. During the trip, the family fights starvation, loses loved ones, and everyone struggles to stay alive. This demonstrates what some families went through during the Great Depression.

The main characters are Tom Joad, Jim Casy, Ma Joad, and Pa Joad. These four characters lead the rest of their family across the nation on their journey for work. Tom Joad is the main character. Throughout the entire novel, Tom shows growth and education through experience. Jim Casy is a former preacher who travels with the Joads. His main job throughout the novel is to listen and try to help the family out as much as possible. Ma Joad is the backbone of the family. Her main goal is to make it to California without breaking the family apart. Pa Joad is a sharecropper whose land has just been foreclosed on by the bank.


The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

Gin Lane and Beer Street, by William Hogarth

Unknown on other Sources

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