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Whom does Steinbeck feel is noble in The Grapes of Wrath?

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jasonshenlichen | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 19, 2011 at 10:31 AM via web

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Whom does Steinbeck feel is noble in The Grapes of Wrath?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 19, 2011 at 8:29 PM (Answer #1)

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Writing in and about a time period where there is little in way of social solidarity, I think that Steinbeck holds a great deal of nobility for those who advocate what should be instead of what is.  Tom Joad and Jim Casy would be amongst these individuals.  At a time where individuals were more concerned about their own self interest, Steinbeck provides a literary hue or enlightened state to Casy and Tom Joad.  When Joad speaks of the idea of connection between all individuals, one can detect Steinbeck's nobility transferred to such words:  “Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one—an’then—"  The lines that follow stress the fundamental precept of the novel in that there is a sensitivity to human suffering that transcends condition and specific context.  This is something that appeals to Steinbeck and something he sees as quite noble, which is why Joad leaves his family to join a larger community and carries out the words of Casy in stressing that social solidarity and collective notions of the good are universal and timeless qualities, the personification of nobility.

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