Grapes of Wrath Analysis
Did Steinbeck present a vision of hope or despair for the future in the novel The Grapes of Wrath? Was Steinbeck optimistic or pessimistic about the future of America’s working class?
In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath there was a theme of courage versus desolation. Through the whole book they were searching for some kind of stability and hope for the future, but they were always looking in the wrong places.
The beginning of The Grapes of Wrath shows farmers all over Oklahoma being driven out of their land. Having their livelihood taken away from them, and being forced to face an unknown future. Their circumstances took control of their lives and they became a group of unwanted people. When the Joads first discovered that they had to move, their idea of California was ideal. It was filled with acre upon acre of ripened fruit waiting to be plucked for an outstanding wage. At one point Grampa states, “they’s grapes out there, just a-hangin’ over inta the road… I’m gonna pick me a wash tub full of grapes,” (95). All their hope in was in California. However it was a hope that proved faulty and eventually broke their family apart.
Once the Joads traveled past California’s luscious valleys they found themselves in Hooverville after Hooverville. Looking for job after job, only to find that there were never enough jobs for the thousands of migrant workers. Pa states, “I ain’t got no hunch we’ll find work. Guess we got to look, though. We don’t even know where’ at to look,” (331). Men and women across America where thinking the same thoughts. They had to find work, even if they did not know where to look. Most of them traveled looking for work even if they knew they would find nothing. Their search for work became their occupation and without it they felt an growth of uselessness.
The government camp became their next hope. Even though they didn’t have much work while they were there, they felt a sense of belonging and trust that they had not found anywhere else. They believed that if there were more camps like this America would become a thriving nation once again, and the ruling businessmen would not have as strong a control over the common people. However there could never be a perfect camp such as the government camp they stayed at. With humans living in it and managing it, there always will be some type of lawbreaker and peace disturber. However, Steinbeck did not believe this. He had no true idea of perfection, and as a result he tried to create his own perfection. He tried to create his own peace. He tried to create his own hope.
Sadly there were those who believed in his false ideas. They put their trust in false hopes of a perfect world in harmony; a world that was run by the people and for the people without any higher being; in other words, without God. This brings me to Steinbeck’s last hope. He believed that if everyone worked for one great cause, the world would become perfect. Even so, his idea could never work without a Devine Being to rule over the world, to keep it, and save it from its downfalls. Since Steinbeck’s hope rested in worldly matter and thoughts of world unity. To me the ending did not give hope for the future, but instead an outlook of despair.