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What are some good examples of imagery and symbolism in Chapters 27 through 30 in the...

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dsantillo | eNoter

Posted November 17, 2010 at 6:31 AM via web

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What are some good examples of imagery and symbolism in Chapters 27 through 30 in the novel The Grapes of Wrath?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM (Answer #1)

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With regard to imagery, one passage that speaks to Casy's new philosophy now that he has stopped preaching is recounted by Tom:

Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an’ he found’ he didn’ have no soul that was his’n. Says he foun’ he jus’ got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain’t no good, ‘cause his little piece of a soul wasn’t no good ‘less it was with the rest, an’ was whole.

This excerpt describes a sophisticated concept, perhaps surprising in that the Joads and their extended family do not seem very "deep," intellectually. Casy describes the difficulty of finding a place where he feels a part of something larger. After he leaves the Joads, when Tom is confronted with leaving rather than being arrested, he recalls this description; he believes that perhaps Casy's new philosophy will serve his as well: he is now dedicated to serving all people, who are all a part of the same soul, which includes Tom himself.

When Ma has to say goodbye to Tom and worries that she will never see him again,he comforts her with this beautiful and inspiring passage:

I’ll be ever’where—wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there...I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there….”

These words form the image in the reader's mind of a man who will transcend the circumstances that have almost beaten him down. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he dedicates himself to improving the lives of others; unselfishly, unworried about what will happen to him (as others in the story have met with disaster for fighting the system), he knows that whatever happens to him, his spirit will be present in the struggles and triumphs his "universal" family experiences.

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