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What could be the message of Chapter 14?John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

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sweetlena | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 3, 2012 at 11:11 PM via web

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What could be the message of Chapter 14?

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 4, 2012 at 1:51 AM (Answer #1)

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The epistolary tenor of Chapter 14 of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is evocative of a parable in its moral message that there is a spiritual need for man to work, and to work alongside other men, not alone.  Indeed, in this chapter there is an emphatic reminder of the individual's place in the larger group of humanity as the Joads and the Wilson's travel together. 

In reference to the disenfranchisement of men during Great Depression, Steinbeck writes that the causes of the growing labor unity lie in 

...a hunger in a stomach, multiplied a million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied a million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied a million times....For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.

With the failure of capitalism in the 1930s many, like Steinbeck, turned to Socialistic ideas as the solution to the economic and social problems.  Here, in Chapter 14, the fraternity of men holding strength to heal the country is presented as a message:

This is the zygote....This is the beginning--from "I" to "we."

Chapter 14, thus, contains the message that there is a spiritual need in man to work; and, to work alongside others and share with them provides this man with a strength to overcome social problems. 

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