The Grapes of Wrath was a novel written by John Steinbeck in 1939. The story is about a family, The Joads, who left their Oklahama homes because of the financial difficulty they faced during The Great Depression. The family travelled to California to look for jobs and opportunities so that they would be able to provide food and shelter to their family. The book has many themes, however, it’s clear that the theme of The Great Depression still stands out to this day. The Grapes of Wrath was able to convey these important themes through its use of structure.
The novel was broken up into three parts, The Oklahama Chapters (I-V), The Journey (VI-XVII), and The Migrants (XVIII-XXX). Each part had different sections; there were often sections within the chapters as well. The author used this structure to allow for a better understanding of what happened throughout The Great Depression era and how families were affected by it. The first part of the story begins with Tom Joad being released from prison after four years. The time is during The Great Depression and Oklahama has been hit hard with dust storms and financial difficulty.
The family packs up their belongings and moves to a house that is next door. The first chapter starts off with The Joads discussing how difficult it will be for them to find jobs because of the harsh economic status of The Great Depression. However, they believe that if one person in their family gets a job then they will be able to make enough money so the rest of the family can work as well, even though each of The Joads are working there hardest at trying to get employed (Steinbeck 1).
The second chapter begins with us learning about what happened before The Joads decided to move out West. The Joads’ home was a small farm and The Joads lived with Grampa, Granma, Pa, Ma, Tom, Al, Rosasharn (who is pregnant), Noah (who is married to Connie), Grandpa John who had been kicked off the land by The Bank. The family discusses their plans to move West because The Dust Bowl made it impossible for The Joads to continue living as farmers. The kids conclude that they do not want to leave because they have fond memories of living on the farm.
However The decision still stands and the family decides that The men will travel first and wait for The women and children at an agreed upon location so they can all go together (Steinbeck 7-8). The family is excited to get started with their journey and The Joads say goodbye to The farm that they have known all of their lives. The third chapter begins with The Joads traveling along the road in their old jalopy, when The car breaks down. The family tries to fix The Jap but The men realize it will be too difficult without The proper tools for repairing The engine.
They stop by an Oklahama garage where Tom works in order to get help because he has worked on cars before (Steinbeck 16). However, one of The mechanics refuses to help The family because he does not want them taking his job (Steinbeck 17-20). Tom finally gets by someone who was once taught by The same mechanic who refused The Joads help. The mechanic agrees to fix The car and The family drives off excitedly (Steinbeck 22-27). The fourth chapter begins with The Joads driving along the road when The jalopy breaks down again. The garage they visited in The last chapter never showed up (Steinbeck 33).
The car completely broke down and there was no way for it to be fixed without them getting new parts; however, Tom is able to fix part of The engine so they can use it temporarily (Steinbeck 34-38). While on the road once again, The family comes across a white man trying to get water from a pump. They stop and offer him some of their water because The man looked as though he was struggling. The Joads take The road once again and The family begins to realize that The conditions they are traveling through look terrible (Steinbeck 39-41). The fifth chapter begins with The Joads getting stuck in The mud on the side of The road.
They work together in order to get The car out of The muddy spot, but it does not work. Al wants to go into town and ask for help, but Tom refuses because he is tired of everyone just giving them handouts. A truck driver comes along and helps them by pulling their car out, while praising what a good job they did at trying to get out of The mud on their own (Steinbeck 45-54). The family is excited and The Joads continue on their way. The chapter ends with The family driving into California because The jalopy broke down once again (Steinbeck 56).
The sixth chapter begins with The Joads calling a man named Muley Graves to ask how far The location where The other men in The family should meet the women and children, who will be coming along shortly after The men. They tell Muley that they cannot make it to the spot any earlier than twelve o’clock at night; however, Muley tells them that there are already people waiting for them (Steinbeck 62). Tom tries repeatedly to call off the meeting but it does not work, so The Joads continue The drive (Steinbeck 65-71).
The family finally arrives at The spot where The other members of The family were supposed to meet, but they are nowhere to be seen. The Joads decide to wait until twelve o’clock (Steinbeck 79). The seventh chapter begins with The Joads being forced out of their car by a police officer who tells them that the land is just for white people and The Joads have no business being there. Tom demands that The officer show him his law book so he can prove that The officer is wrong; however, The officer shoots him in order to protect himself from being hurt. He yells out to everyone else telling them not to try anything because he has The gun.
The officer pulls The Joads from The car, while Tom is still alive and The family watches as The girls are taken away from them (Steinbeck 84-91). The eighth chapter begins with The remaining members of The Joad family continuing on The drive to their new home. They find a place to stop for the night, but it does not have much food for them to eat so they go hungry that night (Steinbeck 100-109). The next morning Ma tells everyone that she is going into town in order to get some money from a man who owes her some money because he bought shoes from her once.