The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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How does Steinbeck incorporate themes of naturalism into The Grapes of Wrath?

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This novel of Steinbeck, like much of his fiction, does not make for comfortable reading, as he seeks to exemplify how naturalism can impact a family like the Joads. Naturalism is a philosophical belief that argues so much of our lives as humans is determined by factors that are beyond our control, such as our environment. It presents humans as being defenceless in a world where actually, in spite of all our strength and technology, we are shown to be incredibly weak and our lives are left so much to chance.

Steinbeck explores this belief explicitly through documenting the migration of the Joads, who, like so many other families, were forced to trek for miles in search of work. He describes how the "shining red earth" impacts their characters, and ultimately, in spite of the considerable strength and resilience of the Joads, their attempt to determine their own lives and futures is shown to be futile against the forces of naturalism, that seem to enter their "souls where the grapes of...

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