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The Importance of Minor Characters in The Grapes of Wrath

Importance of Minor Characters in The Grapes of Wrath

In the novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, a fictitious migrant family, the Joads, travel west in search of a new life away from the tragedies of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Along the way, Steinbeck adds a variety of minor characters with whom the Joads interact. Steinbeck created these minor characters to contrast with the Joad’s strong will power and to reflect man’s fear of new challenges, and to identify man’s resistance to change. Three minor characters who fulfill this role are Muley Graves, Connie Rivers, and the tractor driver.

Early in the novel, Steinbeck presents a direct contrast to the Joads, Muley Graves. Muley Graves’ name and actions accurately portray Steinbeck’s idea of a man resistant to change and fearful of new challenges. The name of this character has a distinct significance. The first name Muley can be related to mule, and then linked to the saying “stubborn as a mule”. By analyzing this name further, the reader can determine that Graves also has a meaning. Grave is symbolic to grief or death, both of which this character endures. Meaningful actions could only follow a name of such significance, and this is true with this character. Even though Muley’s family has left him for “easy livin’ “ in California, he refuses to get off “his” land. By refusing to leave for pride reasons, Steinbeck tries to justify Muley’s stubbornness when he is really terrified of leaving his land and having to change his life style. Muley’s refusal to adapt results in him being transformed into an animal with hi…

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…vides insight on a situation that occurred frequently during that time. Most people did not fear the change in environments, but few like Joe Davis’ boy did and could not adapt to the rough life of a migrant.

Steinbeck created many characters for the Joads to come in contact with for different reasons. These three characters mentioned above were created to contrast the Joads and to recognize the weaker individuals in a society. By giving up, or refusing to try, these characters display a fear of new challenges and a resistance to change.

Grapes of Wrath Essay: Moving From Me to We

Moving From Me to We in The Grapes of Wrath

The play, The Grapes of Wrath, explores how the Joad family adapts to a new reality, how their concern changes from their own family and problems, to other families and their difficulties, until their concern includes all of the migrants and the larger problems of unemployment and prejudice.

The Joad family’s journey to California results in the breakup of their family. The very first cause of the breakup of the individual family was with the loss of their land. The Joad family had lived there for many generations and had very strong ties to the land. Losing their land was equivalent to losing their family history. This is expressed by “She puts them in her pocket, closes the box, stands and with resignation tosses the box on the fire”(Galati 21). It is very evident that ma is reluctant to let her past go. On their journey they lose their first family member, Grampa Joad. This shows that there is a strong connection between a man and his home. Grampa’s great longing for his homeland ultimately resulted in his death.

The shift from individual thinking to wide spread thinking is most directly seen in the actions of Tom Joad. In the beginning of the play Tom is mainly concerned for his own welfare. He wants to make up for all the things that he missed while in prison. Later on in the play he is more concerned with the welfare of the people. Then finally his thinking had shifted to trying to do what is best for all the migrant people by helping them organize into striking. Casy also had foreseen trouble along the way, but the family still pursued west. When Casy states “I’m all worried up. I been watc…

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…any other people in their situation. In the end, Ma realizes that the family doesn’t come first anymore but anybody who just needs help should come first. Everyone had a shift in thinking – sometimes it takes a tragedy to make you see things in a new and different way.

1. You should include a conclusion paragraph in your paper. A conclusion re-caps on what you have discussed in your paper. In one sentence each describe what you wrote in each paragraph. Then combine all of those thoughts into one sentence to end your paper. The conclusion paragraph begins specifically with each theme but broadens, by the end, to include every theme.

2. Also always be sure to cite each quote. Make sure that you have the author and the page number every time.

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