It the blame. I got no kids.

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It is said that everything is done for a purpose, and if that purpose is not obvious, it could be evident within oneself. In The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, the story not only entails the tale of the tragically poor, but also an uplifting sense of discovery. The story tells not only of the physical journey to California, but of the characters’ spiritual travels as well. By examining the lives of Jim Casy, Tom Joad, and Ma Joad, one will see the enlightening changes that mark their lives through the depression. Jim Casy’s journey is an astounding one. He begins his life as a preacher, yet decides one day that his work is invalid; sinful, in some way. He says to Tom, “‘I used ta get the people jumpin’ an’ talkin’ in tongues, an’ glory-shoutin’ till they just fell down an’ passed out. . . An’ then – you know what I’d do? I’d take one of them girls out in the grass, an’ I’d lay with her. Done it ever’ time. Then I’d feel bad, an’ I’d pray an’ pray, but it didn’t do no good. Come the nex’ time, them an’ me was full of the sperit, I’d do it again. I figgered there just wasn’t no hope for me, an’ I was a damned ol’ hypocrite. But I didn’t mean to be.'” (Page 28) He decides that he is not noble enough to continue his work, and grows distempered when others ask him to preach the word of God. He spends his time with the Joad family gratefully, but little else. He does no real work to help them out; he spends most of his time thinking to himself. Although Casy repeatedly confesses his guilt for doing nothing for the family, he makes no real efforts to contribute, and remains on the sidelines. However, when Tom trips a policeman that was threatening to take everyone to the station, Casy takes the blame. “Casy turned to Al. ‘Get out,’ he said. ‘Go on, get out – to the tent. You don’t know nothin’.’ ‘Yeah? How ’bout you?’ Casy grinned at him. ‘Somebody got to take the blame. I got no kids. They’ll jus’ put me in jail, an’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ but set aroun’.’ Al said, ‘Ain’t no reason for -‘ Casy said softly, ‘If you mess in this your whole fambly, all your folks, gonna get in trouble. I don’ care about you. But your ma and your pa, they’ll get in trouble. Maybe they’ll send Tom back to McAlester.'” (Page 342) Casy further strengthens his morals by becoming a rebel against the authorities. He leads a strike against a pay decrease out of a peach farm, and when men come to do him in, he doesn’t step away, but simply pleads his case. “‘Listen,’ he said. ‘You fellas don’ know what you’re doin’. You’re helpin’ to starve kids.’ ‘Shut up, you red son-of-a-bitch.’ A short heavy man stepped into the light. He carried a new white pick handle. Casy went on, ‘You don’ know what you’re a-doin’.'”(page 495) Even as he sees the man means to do him harm, he stands his ground. He goes from a man who felt he had no role to play in life to a martyr for the poor and hungry. His journey is one of courage and light. Tom is a rough edged man at the beginning of the novel. He has killed a man, and yet, seems to feel no remorse. His reasoning behind the slaying is also less than dignified. “‘I been in McAlester them four years.’ ‘Ain’t wanting to talk about it, huh?’ (Casy asked) ‘I won’t ask you no questions, if you done something bad -‘ ‘I’d do what I done – again,’ said Joad. ‘I killed a guy in a fight. We was drunk at a dance. He got a knife in me, an’ I killed him with a shovel that was layin’ there. Knocked his head plumb to squash.’ Casy’s eyebrows resumed their normal level. ‘You ain’t ashamed of nothin’ then?’ ‘No,’ said Joad. ‘I ain’t. I got seven years, account of he had a knife in me. Hot out in four – parole.'” (Page 33) He seems to perceive his misconduct as a ritual of life everyone must undergo, and this lack of conscience shows one with little character or worthiness. However, when he finds his family at his Uncle John’s place, he dedicates his life to helping out the family and himself. He works on the car, towards finding work, and to comfort Ma when she seems to need it. His personality lightens as he becomes a vital part of the Joad clan. However, when he finds Casy striking out, and witnesses his death, his natural instincts come out, and he kills Casy’s assassin, thereby getting himself into even more trouble than he was in before for breaking his parole. “Tom looked down at the preacher. The light crossed the heavy man’s legs and the white new pick handle. Tom leaped silently. He wrenched the club free. The first time he knew he had missed and struck a shoulder, but the second time his crushing blow found the head, and as the heavy man sank down, three more blows found his head.” (Page 495) The repeated blows demonstrate a lack of control possessed by Tom, yet, his manner for killing the man are slightly more justified than the man at the dance. The differences between the two killings already demonstrate an enlightening of Tom’s character. When Tom goes to tell his mother that he cannot stay for fear of the family, his words show his complete metamorphosis. “‘Tom,’ Ma repeated, ‘what you gonna do?’ ‘What Casy done,’ he said. . . Ma said, ‘How’m I gonna know about you?’ ‘Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one – an’ then -‘ ‘Then what, Tom?’ ‘Then it don’ matter. . . Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build – why, I’ll be there.'” (Page 537) He decides to dedicate his life towards the fight of the hungry and oppressed and cares little for trivialities any longer. His journey is a spiritual one that could not have been assessed without Casy’s help. Ma Joad is a character that can be over looked due to her sex and seeming minimal interaction in the novel. Can be over looked, but shouldn’t be. Ma represents the spiritual glue that binds the family through triumph and turmoil. In the beginning, Ma is seen as the typical housewife; she cooks, cleans and looks after the children. She is a somewhat docile creature that follows her husband’s word with little question. Her first stand against the men in the family is the first real threat of the family splitting apart. When a neighbor’s car breaks down, Tom offers to fix it and have the family move on. Ma grabs a jack handle and states she will not go; that she will hit her husband if he tries to make her. “Pa looked helplessly about the group. ‘She sassy,’ he said. ‘I never seen her so sassy.’ . . .Tom said, ‘Ma, what’s eatin’ on you? What ya wanna do this-a-way for? What’s the matter’th you anyways? You gone johnrabbit on us?’ Ma’s face softened, but her eyes were still fierce. ‘You done this ‘thout thinkin’ much,’ Ma said. ‘What we got lef’ in the worl’? Nothin’ but the folks. We come out an’ Grampa, he reached for the shovel-shelf right off. An’ now, right off, you wanna bust up the folks -‘” (page 218) She fights against the norm in order to preserve her family, who is all she has left. Here she gains respect. “The eyes of the whole family shifted back to Ma. She was the power. She had taken control.” (Page 218) Her strength throughout the ordeal is amazing. She hides her pain and anguish from the others and deals with their problems rather than hers. She even lies with Granma’s corpse in order to get the family across to California. “‘I was afraid we wouldn’ get acrost,’ she said. ‘I tol’ Granma we couldn’ he’p her. The fambly had to get acrost. I tol’ her, tol’ her when she was a-dyin’. We couldn’ stop in the desert. There was the young ones – an’ Rosasharn’s baby. I tol’ her.’ . . . The family looked at Ma with a little terror at her strength. Tom said, ‘Jesus Christ! You layin’ there with her all night long!’ ‘The fambly hadda get acrost,’ Ma said miserably.” (Page 294) Her dedication to the family is remarkable. She becomes dedicated to their new lives, and develops a new insight on life. “‘You got to have patience. Why, Tom – us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people – we go on.'” (Page 360) Her strength and power unfold throughout the story and her journey is one of survival. She evolves to become the strongest pillar in the Joad family. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that enables one relate to the struggles of humankind. Yet it is his evolution of the characters that takes on a great impact as one can witness the transitions in a human’s whole being that occurs after heartache and misery unfold. Through Casy’s, Tom’s and Ma’s own spiritual journeys, one can see that there are brighter things that arise from tragedy. That although situations may be at their bleakest, one adapts, and may even turn out better than he or she started out. It is a shame that horrid situations are the ones that urge people to change their lives, but it is at least enlightening to see that the majority of these changes are for the better.


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Categories: Dance

Grapes beginning of the story is her

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Grapes of Wrath Explain how the behavior of the Joads
shows Steinbecks view of the responsibility of the individual
to society as a whole. Chapter 14 made an interesting point.

At one point in the chapter it was stated that a farmer lost his
farm. As this mans 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. Much the same
transformation happens to the Joad family especially to the
characters of Ma, Young Tom, and Rose of Sharon. At the
onset of the novel we see the Joad family struggling just to
keep their immediate family together. They are focused on
just themselves. By the end of this wonderful book we see
the Joad family branching out in many different ways to
embrace all of mankind as one big family. Ma Joads 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
fiancees 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 want 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. He
starts to realize that in order for the migrant workers to
survive and succeed they must unite. He knows that if they
band together as one, they can demand that their God-given
rights under the constitution be honored. They can begin to
gain respect from their fellow man. After Jim is killed, Tom
takes up the cause of his people. He plans to work with
them. Just as Jim taught him, Tom realizes that man is no
good alone and that every mans soul is just a piece of a
bigger one. Rose of Sharon is totally focused on herself from
the beginning. She is pregnant for the first time and in love
with her husband so her little world is complete. She
constantly bemoans the fact that she needs nutritious food so
her baby will be healthy. She is always concerned that what
she does or what others do to her will hurt her baby in some
way. She is so wrapped up in herself and the baby she is
carrying that she does not realize that her family is falling
apart. She whines and moans her way through most of the
book until her baby is born dead. The death of her child
seems to transform her. At the very end of the novel she
breast feeds a dying man. To me this is symbolic of drinking
from the milk of human kindness. She gives of herself to save
another human being. She too is learning about the
fellowship of man. In conclusion, as the Joad family
seemingly disintegrates, they actually merge in to a larger,
more universal family the family of man.
Book Reports

Categories: Family Members

HIST had been several efforts to highlight the

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HIST 395 As stated in the textbook, “There had been several efforts to highlight the shortcomings of the system, such as Wild Boys of the Road (1933), Our Daily Bread (1934), and Dead End (1937), films that addressed unemployment, transients, agricultural problems, urban slums, and juvenile delinquency. These films, however, lack the power and emotional impact of Ford’s work…. Nor do previous screen entries adopt the openly sympathetic stance on aspirations of labor and unions that is so evident in this film. (SA, 67) The overall message Ford was trying to represent in this adaptation of the novel written by John Steinbeck was to, “expose the system’s shortcomings as well as man’s inhumanity to man. ” (SA, 68) Ford showed how all the people with power had some sort of machinery that would defeat man in scenes of Grapes of Wrath. The scenes where Muley has a couple of flashbacks to when they were told they had to leave their land by someone in a fancy car and then the destruction of their home by the big bulldozer showed how the power of the east, the banks had on people.

They destroyed the highest value of them all and that was family community, much like the plight of the Irish settlers during the famine in Ireland. Ford wanted to show how the destruction of family values forced people to revaluate their lives and move onto something new. Forcing them to go on the road to find some sort of “home”, which they find along the roadside in camps. America’s image of a perfect society included the idea of having a home, something you owned, a physical building, but when that was destroyed by the bulldozer, if forced the redefine what “home” really is.

Tom does leave at the end of the film and the scene with him walking up the hill sort of depicts an upward battle he faces for the future. I’m picturing Tom as a sort of leader in a community, kind of like how Sean Penn stood up for gay rights and ran for a spot in public office in San Francisco in the film Milk. I’m seeing Tom standing up for the farmers and the poverty stricken society of the 40s and 50s. Maybe he is the first to start Farm Aid instead of Willie Nelson? The song “Red River Valley” is played a few times in the film but comes up at the end of the film to signify an upbeat sort of ending to the film.

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The song is about looking back at your past and carrying the light of the sun to a brighter future. The family is packed up and moving on with their lives, just like Tom would do in a follow up film. Tom would be a fighter for human rights and strive for equality of life, not letting factory-farming ruin the land and preserving family values. I foresee Tom standing up for rights of workers and maybe being one of those people that would chain himself to a tree to save the destruction of land. Tom would be assassinated or run over by a bulldozer in the final scene, he would be a savior of sorts for his actions.

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