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Grapes of Wrath Essay: Steinbeck’s Use of Interchapters

The Use of Interchapters in The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath, is a narrative about the travel of the Joad family from Oklahoma to California. However, between many of the narrative chapters, Steinbeck inserts interchapters, which interrupt the flow of the narrative to provide the author’s commentary. This technique is very effective because the interchapters create an image of the economic and social history that impact the story. They provide a broad picture of what is happening to the mass of migrants traveling to California on Route 66. Without the interchapters, the reader would be given a limited view of how life was for the migrants, and Stienbeck would not have been able to provide very effective commentary.

Steinbeck uses some of the interchapters to set the tone and mood of the novel and to depict the life of the migrants that had to travel down Route 66 in the 1930’s. For example, Steinbeck writes chapter seven using a newsreel technique. By using small pieces of spoken conversation, and half-thoughts, Steinbeck is able to create a mood of confusion and chaos. He creates an image of how the migrants were taken advantage of and gives the reader an impression of the hard times many of the migrants had to face.

In addition, chapter five creates a clear image of the devastation that the farmers faced and their hatred for the “monster” bank. This interchapter allows the reader to experience the passion that the farmers have toward the land and the choices they had to make concerning betrayal of their own people. It presents the reader with a broad prospective of what is happening to the tenant farmers before …

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…the same position and because they know that they can depend on one another they realize the need of family and unity to get through hard times. Without interchapters that give Steinbeck’s own commentary on the subjects, the novel would lack the social background that gives the reader insight into the lives of those affected by the Dust Bowl and would not allow the reader to feel sorrow for the migrants.

The interchapters are very effective because they provide the reader with a clear image of what is happening physically, mentally, and emotionally to the migrants as they travel to California. Without the interchapters, the reader would not be able to fully understand the hardships these people faced and Stienbeck would not have been able to give his insightful commentary.

Grapes of Wrath Essay: From Self-focus to Concern for Mankind

From Self-focus to Concern for Mankind in Grapes of Wrath

At one point in the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, it was stated that a farmer lost his farm. As this man’s family picks up their belongings and heads west they meet up with another family dealing with a similar situation. Now these two families share a common bond. A brotherhood is forming. This is the catalyst. No longer is it one farmer saying he lost his land but two farmers united saying they lost their land. The transformation from self-focus to a concern for mankind can be seen in the characters of Ma Joad, Tome and Rose of Sharon.

Ma Joad’s main concern at the beginning of the story is her family. She wants to keep the unit together and works diligently to achieve this goal. However, one by one, family members leave the group for various reasons leading to the slow but sure disintegration of the Joad clan. The first to go is Noah; then Grandpa and Grandma die; Connie walks off and leaves Rose of Sharon; Young Tom leaves because he has gotten into trouble again; and Al becomes engaged and decides to go with his fiancée’s family. Ma deals with each loss as best she can. As the story progresses, we find Ma Joad becoming more and more concerned with people outside the family unit. She feels the need to share whatever meager food and belongings her family has with other families enduring hardships. She saw the needs of her own family at the beginning of the story and by the end of the novel, she sees the needs of her fellow man.

Young Tom appears to be self-centered when he if first introduced. He has just left prison after serving four years for murder. Tom wants to enjoy life to the fullest and to be with his family. He is very disturbed to find the family home deserted and almost destroyed. He, by this time, has reacquainted himself with Jim Casey, an ex-preacher. The more Tom listens to Jim and his views on life, the soul of man, and the fellowship of mankind, the less he focuses on himself and his needs. He then begins to focus on the plight and abuse of the homeless farmers. Tom begins to realize that in order for the migrant workers to survive and succeed they must unite.

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