Grapes of Wrath Student Reading Guide

  • PDF
  • Print
  • E-mail

Authors and their themes/grapes of wrath student study guide

al.1/gow/gow.pre.read.1

Mr. Maltese

THE GRAPES OF WRATH
OR
"WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSON
'WELCHES ON HUMANITY'

Human exploitation and the poverty and suffering that ensue from using people and then discarding them are not new to the ongoing drama of humanity. Nor is the struggle between what one owes oneself and what one owes the "community" a modern invention. But somehow, in our time, with all our technological advances like cellular phones, compact discs and sixty-seven different kinds of Chia pets, it is difficult to believe that the same inhumane forces that plagued the people of the medieval period exist today.

The first objective of this unit is to make you aware of world politics and economic forces. I expect that you would at least ask some very good questions about why certain conditions continue to exist. A second objective is for you to improve your thinking skills. You will learn how to analyze certain information and then, using what you have learned, develop certain theories (synthesize). A third objective is for you to read and understand John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck gives us great insight into the forces that shape human nature and behavior. As you read the text I hope you ask the question, "What is Steinbeck trying to say?"

John Steinbeck traveled with a group of migrant workers and this novel is, more or less, an account of that journey (read the dedication at the beginning of the novel). The novel occurs during the nineteen thirties in the United States. The novel can be divided up into three sections. The first has to do with the migrants' early life. The second has to do with their lives on the road. And the third concerns their arrival at the "promised land." The novel is a straight narrative except for one major exception. We follow the migrant family as they survive one crisis after another, but interspaced throughout this narrative are what are known as "intercalary chapters."

/These intercalary chapters are devoted to different aspects and occurrences of that time period. They are related to what happens to the migrant family in the narrative, but we have to burn a few brain cells to make that connection.

The reason Steinbeck has these intercalary chapters is to remind us that while we are following one family around, (the narrative), this family is only one of hundreds of thousands of families. The problem is not one of the microcosm. It is one of the macrocosm. These intercalary chapters serve several purposes. They give us a feeling of scope, a feeling that this is a novel not about individuals but about a nation in particular and humanity in general. They also give us insight into the motivations for certain human behavior such as greed and, at the other end of the spectrum, generosity. These chapters remind us that this is a tale not of a family, but of a people.

But if Steinbeck was angered but what he saw, then why didn't he write an impassioned essay about the conditions of the day instead of creating the Joad family and a long narrative about their situation? Steinbeck knew the axiom, "it is not enough to know that six million Chinese are starving unless you know one Chinaman that is starving." That is, numbers, statistics are poor motivators of action unless we can attach a face to them. What does six million or ten million or a hundred million mean? Once we start addressing these high numbers, meaning goes out the window unless we can somehow personalize those numbers. (The Pentagon, back in the fifties or sixties, theorized that we could "win" a nuclear war with the Russians. The logic was that "only" forty-six million Americans would die while the Russian figure would be twice as much!!) The numbers DO mean something if we see a documentary focusing on America, one of those starving children, or if your grandfather was one of the six million victims of the holocaust or if you were scheduled to be one of those forty-six million nuclear deaths!! So Steinbeck has us follow the Joads in their journey toward the land of milk and honey. We come to "know" them and to empathize with them. They are not numbers. They become real. So does the problem.

As you read along, ask yourself good questions and certainly take GOOD NOTES. "What does private property really mean?" "What does it mean to "own" something?" Some questions might be "Who or what is responsible?" "What responsibilities do I have, if any, toward other people?" "What do other people owe me?" Use diagrams of characters and plots, draw relationships, illustrate ideas to help you process these questions and others that crop up in your reading.

As always, I expect you NOT to read the Cliff Notes in lieu of the novel. Mom and Dad paid good money for the novel, and I want to know what you think, not what Mr. Cliff thinks. There will be a test (or a series of tests) on a CLOSE READING of the work. I honestly hope that you enjoy the novel. When I read it as a high schooler. it raised my consciousness about world events and my role in them. I hope it opens a few windows for you also.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 December 2010 17:27

 

Comments  

 
0 #170 2209 w live oak 2018-11-20 16:13
Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
I'm hoping to start my own blog soon but I'm a little lost on everything.

Would you propose starting with a free platform like Wordpress or
go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I'm completely confused ..
Any tips? Thanks!
Quote
 
 
0 #169 online casino nc 2018-11-19 09:38
Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access
consistently quickly.
Quote
 
 
0 #168 BestRandall 2018-11-19 09:15
I have noticed you don't monetize your page, don't waste your traffic, you can earn extra
bucks every month. You can use the best adsense alternative for any type of website
(they approve all websites), for more details simply search
in gooogle: boorfe's tips monetize your website
Quote
 
 
0 #167 ace 333 2018-11-18 20:33
You would not write about scamming the government on a tax preparation website.
I could possibly write a book bigger than War and Peace using
this subject yourself.
Quote
 
 
0 #166 ace 333 2018-11-18 20:33
You would not write about scamming the government on a tax preparation website.
I could possibly write a book bigger than War and Peace using
this subject yourself.
Quote
 
 
0 #165 ace 333 2018-11-18 20:33
You would not write about scamming the government on a tax preparation website.
I could possibly write a book bigger than War and Peace using
this subject yourself.
Quote
 
 
0 #164 m ntc33 2018-11-15 13:08
Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need
some advice from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your own blog?

I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty
fast. I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not
sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
Cheers
Quote
 
 
0 #163 m ntc33 2018-11-15 13:07
Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need
some advice from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your own blog?

I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty
fast. I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not
sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
Cheers
Quote
 
 
0 #162 m ntc33 2018-11-15 13:07
Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need
some advice from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your own blog?

I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty
fast. I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not
sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
Cheers
Quote
 
 
0 #161 rollex 11 2018-11-12 13:58
Let's take a look at those tips. But content marketing is not the one click solution that many people desire.
Your net site need to be the rallying point of all of one's
marketing efforts.
Quote
 
 
0 #160 rollex 11 2018-11-12 13:58
Let's take a look at those tips. But content marketing is not the one click solution that many people desire.
Your net site need to be the rallying point of all of one's
marketing efforts.
Quote
 
 
0 #159 m.scr888.com login 2018-11-11 00:15
What's up to every , for the reason that I am in fact eager of reading
this weblog's post to be updated daily. It includes nice material.
Quote
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

A Class Act--Teaching for Smarties

Comments?

  • Hello. I see that you don't update your site too o...
  • Hello. I see that you don't update your site too o...
  • Whatever your motivation could at a single want to...
  • Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for asp...
  • WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by sear...