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Themes in Grapes of WrathHow are themes such as hard work, class conflict, strength ...

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suco | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2008 at 6:02 PM via web

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Themes in Grapes of Wrath

How are themes such as hard work, class conflict, strength  of family and hope portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2008 at 8:47 AM (Answer #2)

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Class conflict is evident in the status of the work camps and the low pay the workers are paid.  They live in relative squalor and there is often talk of revolt and rebellion.

Strength of family can be seen in the fact that the family stays together through most of the book no matter how tough times get.  Toward the end, people branch off a bit, but they are loving and work together to keep everyone's spirits up and food, clothing, other basic needs taken care of for all members.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2008 at 8:48 AM (Answer #3)

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Class conflict is evident in the status of the work camps and the low pay the workers are paid.  They live in relative squalor and there is often talk of revolt and rebellion.

Strength of family can be seen in the fact that the family stays together through most of the book no matter how tough times get.  Toward the end, people branch off a bit, but they are loving and work together to keep everyone's spirits up and food, clothing, other basic needs taken care of for all members.

You can see the theme of hope in the last few pages where Rose of Sharon is selflessly feeding the old man with her own milk.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted July 30, 2008 at 8:49 AM (Answer #4)

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The idea of hope is, in my opinion, by far the most important theme in this novel.  Everytime Steinbeck presents something bad or some great challenge to the Joad family, he provides a small, tempting piece of hope.  Grandpa dies, but they form a strong bond with the Wilsons; they learn how poorly Okies are treated, but find a home in the government camp; they can't find work while at the camp, but stumble upon the job picking peaches; they have to leave the peaches, but find good jobs picking cotton; etc. etc.  For as cruel as this novel can be, it is really a statement about human nature and hope.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:25 PM (Answer #5)

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I'm with #4 on the hope idea.  Something is bad, but someone offers to help.  A job is lost, but someone helps provide.  Some are up to no good, but everyone rallies around to get rid of them.  He can't afford a whole loaf of bread, but he gets peppermint candy sticks for his kids.  It's a constant theme in the novel.  My students always find the final scene rather disturbing, and I understand that.  I, however, see it as one last example of hope--an offer of life when death was certain.

Lori Steinbach

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