Excerpt From this Document
Written during the Great Depression and published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath chronicles the devastating effects of the Depression in the lives of one American family, the Joads. Through their struggles to survive with dignity after forces beyond their control destroy their former lives, Steinbeck celebrates the human spirit while condemning the corporate greed that created the Depression and its tragic consequences in the lives of millions of Americans like the Joads.
A hardworking Oklahoma farm family, the Joads lose their land in the heart of the Dust Bowl when their crops fail, they are unable to pay their debt to the bank, and the bank takes possession of the farm, leaving the family homeless. Hoping to find work in the fertile valleys of California, the Joads pack up the few possessions they can take with them and head west on Route 66. The novel details their journey and their experiences in California where they find themselves living among scores of families like their own, displaced by the Depression and flung into a life of desperate poverty and deprivation.
Throughout the novel, the Joads face a grueling series of challenges to their survival. Their surname is reminiscent of “Job,” and like the biblical character, they also endure terrible trials that test their faith. The family’s saving grace is their unfailing loyalty and devotion to one another. As Ma Joad reminds them, “What we got lef’ in the worl’? Nothin’ but us.”
About this Document
eNotes lesson plans have been written, tested, and approved by working classroom teachers. The main components of each plan are the following:
- An in-depth introductory lecture
- Discussion questions
- Vocabulary lists
- Chapter-by-chapter study questions
- A multiple-choice test
- Essay questions
Each plan is divided into a teacher and a student edition. The teacher edition provides complete answer keys.