The Grapes of Wrath
AN UNDAUNTED JOURNEY
Throughout history, man has made many journeys, far and
wide. Moses' great march through the Red Sea and Columbus'
transversing the Atlantic, are only but a few of man's
great voyages. Even today, great journeys are being made.
Terry Fox's run across Canada while having cancer is one
such journey. In every one of these instances people have
had to rise above themselves and overcome immense odds,
similar to a salmon swimming upstream to fullfill its life
line. Intense drive and extreme fortitude are qualities
they had to possess during their travels. In The Grapes of
Wrath, Steinbeck shows the Joads endurance by his use of
extended metaphors in intercalary chapters.
Steinbeck uses intercalary chapters to provide background
for the various themes in the novel. This effectively
forshadows upcoming events by telling of the general state
of the local population in the intercalary chapters and
then narrowing it down to how it affects the main
characters of the novel, the Joads. Setting the tone of the
novel in the readers mind is another function of
Steinbeck's intercalary chapters.
In chapter three, Steinbeck describes in detail the long
tedious journey of a land turtle across a desolate highway.
From the onset of his journey, the turtle encounters many
setbacks. All along the way he is hindered by ants, hills,
and oak seeds under his shell. The turtle's determination
to reach his destination is most apparent when a truck,
driven by a young man, swerves to hit the turtle. The
turtle's shell was clipped and he went flying off the
highway. This did not stop the turtle. He struggled back
to his belly and kept driving toward his goal, just as the
Joads kept driving toward their goal.
Much like the turtle from chapter three, the Joads had to
face many great hardships in their travels. The planes of
Oklahoma, with their harsh summer weather, was the Joads
desolate highway. The truck driver represented the
Californians, who buried food and killed livestock to keep
the Joads and others like them away from their dream.
Sickness was their ants and hills, but even through all of
this the Joads persevered. They were driven by great
motivating powers - poverty and hunger. Just as the turtle
searched for food, the Joads were searching for paradise,
"the garden of Eden."
The Joad's journey is second to none in terms of adversity
and length. The Joads incredible ability to overcome all
odds and keep going is epitomized in intercalary chapter
three. Steinbeck uses his rendition of facts, the "turtle"
chapter, to parallel the Joads' struggle to reach the
promised land. Just as the turtle endured, so did the
Joads. They never digressed from their straight but narrow
path to California.
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